(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. A full list of CCLaP's book-based mini-reviews can be found on its main book page, and movies on the main movie page.)
May We Shed These Human Bodies
By Amber Sparks
Curbside Splendor Press
Today's review comes with a bit of a personal bias; although I don't know author Amber Sparks other than being briefly introduced to her once at a party, her new book of stories has come out through our friends and peers over at Chicago's Curbside Splendor, a group that CCLaP frequently collaborates with for publicity projects and the like. But I wanted to make a mention of it here anyway, because I have to say that I found it really remarkable; and that's extra exceptional for it being a collection of unrelated stories, because I've gone on record many times before about how I find story collections not really worth people's time unless they truly are remarkable. These stories, however, are sharp and surreal, with tight little frameworks and few wasted words, the kind of diamond-hard pieces that raises this story collection to the top of that unending f-cking pile of mediocre ones that now exist in the world; and it comes as no surprise to me that such a collection would come from Curbside, because like so many local presses they have become razor-sharp at finding and nurturing astounding unpublished manuscripts. What a great time it is to be a literary person in Chicago! And I really want to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is, to actually buy and read these books instead of just liking them on Facebook and shouting from a distance, "Good luck with that!" I know the choices for new titles from Chicago publishers can seem overwhelming these days -- thank God they can seem overwhelming these days -- but if you want to boil it down to a very sure bet, May We Shed These Human Bodies definitely deserves to be on the short list.