The Bread We Eat in Dreams

Catherynne M. Valente. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $40 (344p) ISBN 978-1-59606-582-6
Valente, who has recently focused on work for younger readers (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making), brings an adult sensibility to this collection of 20 stories and six poems, even those that feature adolescents who merge with the mythic. Coyote leads a nondescript high school to a once-in-a-lifetime championship (“White Lines on a Green Field”). One New England town has a tutelary demon (“The Bread We Eat in Dreams”) while another looks for a ritual virgin (“The Blueberry Queen of Wiscasset”). Valente mashes up fact and fable to produce both surrealism (“The Wolves of Brooklyn”) and humor (“Twenty-Five Facts About Santa Claus”), but what she does best is reveal the hearts of young folks, whether they’re learning to face the realities of a vampire plague (“In the Future When All’s Well”) or the social horrors of a postapocalyptic America fighting an alternate WWII under President Joe McCarthy (“Fade to White”). Jacket and interior illustrations by Kathleen Jennings add nicely to the off-kilter feeling of Valente’s challenging work. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
Release date: 12/01/2013
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