The Unfinished World’s Strange Tales Will Crawl Under Your Skin

My first contribution to the newly launched Chicago Review of Books is a review of The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks. It’s a brilliant collection and my short review doesn’t do it nearly enough justice. So you should also check out John Domini’s review of it over at BookForum.

If you can, you should follow both the Chicago Review of Books (@bookschicago) and Amber Sparks (@ambernoelle)on Twitter.

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed or reviewed, so I had to shake off the cobwebs. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to contribute more to Chicago Review of Books.

Chicago Review of Books

sparksIt would be silly to pigeonhole Amber Sparks‘s fiction into some fixed genre. Like Kelly Link and Heather Fowler, she writes speculative stories grounded in everyday realism. The Unfinished World and Other Stories—her second collection of short stories after 2012’s May We Shed These Human Bodies—is equal parts fairy tale, steampunk, magical realism, myth, fantasy, and allegory, as well as grim realism, sly satire, and finely wrought character studies.

Sparks’s love of flash fiction—which only hints at the story being told, like the thick mortar between a longer story’s bricks—creates the sum effect of “a long cavernous, mazy sort of trail.” She begins with the primeval, the strange, and then applies it to modern life. “I feel like these stories do two things,” she says. “They say something about us now, and say something about us always, this weird young race that’s just hanging out all alone in…

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