Monday, June 25, 2012

Fungus of the Heart, by Jeremy C. Shipp

(pb; 2010: horror/science fiction anthology)

Overall review:

This is one of the most unique and best microfiction collections that I've read in a long while.

Fungus isn't a "casual" read - every word counts, and each word can easily flip the meanings and tableaux presented in these wildly original stories, into even odder - though strangely relatable - works.

Worth owning, for microfiction readers who don't mind a bit of initial narrative disorientation/strangeness and mental puzzle-working in their reading experiences.

Standout stories:

1.) "The Haunted House": Distinctive take on the concept of being "haunted".

2.) "Fungus of the Heart": Intriguing fantasy tale about Nightingale, a Sentinel [warrior] who's on a mission of revenge and love.

Beautiful end-line to this one.

3.) "Boy in the Cabinet": In a world of monsters, Death Cats and other sources of cruelty, a Boy seeks a love that will transform, not trap him.

Striking and reader-hooking piece.

4.) "Just Another Vampire Story": A cheating boyfriend gets his strange, but well-deserved desserts.

Succinct, perfect, and relatively "normal"/mainstreamish story (for this collection).

5.) "The Escapist": A war between gnomes and goblins takes on diseased - possibly redemptive - aspects.

6.) "Ula Morales": A forest creature superhero struggles to live up to her mother's designs.

7.) "Spider House": A warsick being (Shanna), living with a simple-minded sprite (Roan) and a demon (Evening), considers the ghosts of their pasts. Ultimately tender-toned work, this.

8.) "Monkey Boy and the Monsters": Monkey Boy and Soapy, soldiers in the war mentioned in "Spider House," fight vampires (often disguised as boy bands), snotty teenagers, werewolves, the pretentious rich, and other monsters.

There are so many laugh-out-loud zinger lines in this, it's easily one of my favorite entries in this anthology.

9.) "Agape Walrus": Cleverly titled, genre-flipping piece about a zombie polar bear and a rare walrus.

10.) "Kingdom Come": The kidnapping of a man's son leads, in labyrinthine fashion, to the father's personal revelations.

Other stories:

"How to Make a Clown"; "The Sun Never Rises in the Big City"; "Ticketyboo"

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