The beautiful stories in Amber Sparks’s debut collection have an ephemeral quality that is difficult to categorize. Comparisons can be made to Haruki Murakami or George Saunders, but honestly the writing is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The otherworldliness of these stores will transport you beyond the minutia of your everyday life and alter the way you look at the world. Recommended By Shawn D., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In the weird and wonderful tradition of Kelly Link and Karen Russell, Amber Sparks's dazzling new collection bursts forth with stories that render the apocalyptic and otherworldly hauntingly familiar. In "The Cemetery for Lost Faces," two orphans translate their grief into taxidermy, artfully arresting the passage of time. The anchoring novella, "The Unfinished World," unfurls a surprising love story between a free and adventurous young woman and a dashing filmmaker burdened by a mysterious family. Sparks's stories — populated with sculptors, librarians, astronauts, and warriors — form a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Mythical, bizarre, and deeply moving, heralds the arrival of a major writer and illuminates the search for a brief encounter with the extraordinary.
The images tumbling from Sparks’s mind in her extraordinary second story collection (following May We Shed These Human Bodies) are fantastical and sublime whether she is unveiling the secret life of a janitor working in a space station exposing the heart of darkness in a twin who is set on revenge or—as in the title novella—pairing two lovers in the 1920s who have widely diverging backgrounds. In present day historical and fantasy settings the author is assured; her spare but colorful prose takes the reader on journeys of longing and mystery often into uncharted territory all the while capturing setting and character in a few words—“Teesa is one of those people who substitute scarves for personality.” As Sparks explores the glory of a daughter killing a werewolf in “Take Your Daughter to the Slaughter” the tenderness of the man who builds “death houses” in “For These Humans Who Cannot Fly” or the obsession of a time traveler in “Thirteen Ways of Destroying a Painting” the breadth of her imagination never ceases to amaze. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"Reading is like being given the keys to the mysterious back rooms of a great museum: everywhere you look there is another wonder, strange and surprising and fashioned with admirable skill. Amber Sparks is a master curator — part historian, part scientist, all storyteller — and her curiosity is boundless and intoxicating, leading her time and again to stories that will intrigue and enchant any reader willing to be moved to amazement and joy." Matt Bell, author of Scrapper
"In The Unfinished World, Amber Sparks is a master of the fantastic. Here are stories about fever librarians and brothers who are swans, time travelers and space janitors. With each story, Sparks defies the known world in absolutely thrilling ways." Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist
"The stories of are exciting in their invention and sharp in their insights — the collection a thrilling riff on history and pop culture, fairy tale and fantasy. Amber Sparks is as perversely entertaining as Margaret Atwood, her writing as lush as Angela Carter's." Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola
"Elegant and otherworldly, is my favorite kind of magic trick. Sparks exhibits a genuine understanding of humanity while expertly rendering the longings of her varied population — from Lancelot to time travelers to the prettiest cashier at Safeway. I fell asleep by a river while reading and had a dream I could not remember when I woke in the gauze of late afternoon. is the dream and the memory and the river. Shot through with jazz age sensibilities, welcoming weirdness and occasionally eschewing the laws of physics, this beautiful collection is (at times, literally) haunted by its characters. They haunted me, too." Marie-Helene Bertino, author of 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas
About the Author
Amber Sparks is the author of a previous collection, May We Shed These Human Bodies, and her fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, The Collagist, and elsewhere. She lives in Washington, DC.
Amber Sparks on PowellsBooks.Blog
I don't remember exactly when I discovered time was a fluid concept, but I wish I could go back and feel that flash again. How shape-shifting, how small and simultaneously world-swallowing I must have felt! To understand, suddenly, that time could be compressed or stretched, that one could dash backwards or forwards in time, or perhaps...