Nothing Could Be Further

Tim Conley. Emerson Street (www.emmersonstreetpress.com), $22.50 (200p) ISBN 978-0-9869605-0-5
In his latest short story collection, Conley (The Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages) creates worlds that are almost recognizable, ours but for a few strange anomalies: traveling silverware, alien mind control, a village that can suddenly fly. The 30 short stories range in length from one unfinished sentence to more than 20 pages, with Conley aptly developing complete relationships and characters in only a few short paragraphs. In “The Plight of the African Dictator’s Widow,” a popular spam e-mailer is given depth and humanized. Just one sentence, in “Pass the Mustard,” provides insight into a couple’s romantic life and the dynamics of their relationship. Some of the longer stories can drag, like “Eye of the Hawk,” which details the intricate rules, and every rule’s exceptions, in an unnamed game. While many stories are humorous, Conley doesn’t shy away from the dark, as shown by “In Pursuit of Shape,” where a math teacher shares an equation about getting attacked by his students. A quick and clever read. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 01/01/2011
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