Fantastical, weirdly beautiful stories. Some lasting only a few pages and just when I thought one couldn’t be more bizarre and richly original, Sparks blew my mind over and over again.
“She told her pastor that she was coming up here to be closer to God, but really she just wanted to get away from Earth. She was tired of waiting to be recognized, waiting for someone to hear her name and turn, eyes too big, full of questions and dangerous curiosity.” – The Janitor in Space
Yes, a janitor who cleans in space.
Clarence and Louise are siblings who take over their father’s taxidermy business. As children he realizes that only one (Louise) truly has the gift for the art:
“He needed a child who would remain impartial in the face of accurate observation, for without it, what did we have but the terrors of the imagination? It wasn’t that her father had no use for imagination-indeed it was essential to his work, to creating the final spark of life. But he also knew what a terrible dictator imagination could be, given unbridled freedom.” -The Cemetery For Lost Faces
My favorite, though, has to be the best three-paged short story I’ve ever read, written about John in the form of logic questions. I actually read it once and laughed out loud the entire time. Then a reread. And then again aloud to my husband who also agreed that it was brilliant. It starts off with:
“If John is three, and John’s mother is six times his age, how old was John’s mother when John was conceived in the back of Al Neill’s pickup truck after a Styx concert in Milwaukee? If John’s parents spend 100 times zero days being actual parents to John, how many days’ total is that? Does your answer change if John’s mother sometimes bought him Mr. Pibb and lottery tickets when she stopped at the gas station on her way home from work?” -The Logic of the Loaded Heart
“The Fever Librarian”, “For These Humans Who Cannot Fly” and “The Unfinished World” (a novella) are others that stood out but really I could go on for days with quotes from each story in this collection. Some flew over my head but even those had something to marvel at. They truly are something to experience and had me speechless and full of awe at the originality and creativity. If you like something completely outside of the box and weirdly wonderful, pick up a copy. I can’t promise that you will understand what you are reading, but the journey is worth it.
The Unfinished World: And Other Stories by Amber Sparks is 240 pages and was released by Liveright in January 2016. I first received an ARC through Edelweiss but then checked out a finished copy at my local library.