29 August, 2007

Red Spikes is a *starred* Booklist book!

Jennifer Mattson says:
With Lanagan having published two acclaimed short story collections in close succession, one, (Black Juice, 2005), selected as a Printz Honor Book, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Australian fantasist’s third outing—also comprising 10 short stories—showed signs of exhausted reserves. Far from it, this razorsharp assemblage thrusts readers just as exhilaratingly into alien, hermetic environments and uncompromisingly idiomatic points of view. Fans will anticipate some disconcerting, even horrific stuff: In one story, female monkeys in a haremlike herd endure the rivalries of alpha males; in another, characters in Purgatory witness a soul’s descent into a howling, Hieronymous Bosch–like hell. While the stories always startle, they also often murmur about humanity’s higher inclinations, including honor, compassion, and different kinds of love. Along with the patience required to acclimate to each story’s fresh setup, the sophisticated slant of the collection makes it most appropriate for the broadest, most mature readers—the monkey-herd drama, for instance, includes upsetting scenes of animal-world rape, and several stories share plots about childbirth and motherhood rarely seen in books for teen readers. Such indifference to usual genre boundaries will only increase the admiration of Lanagan’s fans, and may serve to broaden her audience into the adult literary world. Young writers will relish the insights into each story’s genesis provided in the closing notes.


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