cover image Domestic Disturbances

Domestic Disturbances

Peter Grandbois. Subito Press (Small Press, dist.), $16 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-9831150-7-6

A mix of surreal and airy vignettes, Granbois’s (Nahoonkara) collection of “fictions” mythologizes the bizarre in suburban America. Divided into three sections—“Monsters,” “Disturbances,” and “Hauntings”—the collection sandwiches flash fiction between two longer ruminations. “School Bus,” the opening story, presents a fantastical account of a ride to school overseen by the Zeus-like Bus Driver: “ ‘This age is desperately wicked,’ He says. ‘I have crossed through Aurora and Lakewood, Littleton, and Highlands Ranch and everywhere I see the same face, the same red eyes, the same bestial savagery.’” The battles and insecurities of adolescence condense in the form of strange characters: the shy girl with “robins and jays that fly from her mouth,” the Bearded Boy who must battle a serpent, the harassed girl “with the tree growing out her spine.” A modern fable, “What the Billy Goat Said,” closes the book; however, the precise tales of the middle section (never over three pages each) are the standouts. Taking the quotidian as their subject—including mundane activities such as gardening, plumbing, doing laundry, and cooking—the stories couch workaday sentiments in surreal circumstances that reveal the characters’ layered emotional states. The pieces create a disparate, fragmented view of modern life, with the most effective tapping into themes of malaise. “TV Head” encapsulates this feeling with its closing line: “We’ve come full circle. There must be a way out of this loop. Or perhaps not. Perhaps this circle is as close as we get to hope.” (Nov.)