cover image May We Shed These Human Bodies

May We Shed These Human Bodies

Amber Sparks. Curbside Splendor (Ingram, dist.), $12 trade paper (148p) ISBN 978-0-9834228-7-7

Sparks%E2%80%99s debut story collection swirls with a Tim Burton-like whimsy. Ghosts nurse babies (%E2%80%9CAs They Always Are%E2%80%9D), Death visits Earth as a New England prep (%E2%80%9CDeath and the People%E2%80%9D), people evolve from trees (in the title story), and a girl, born in the land of the dead, is sent to Earth accompanied by a protective group of ghosts (%E2%80%9CThe Ghosts Eat More Air%E2%80%9D). %E2%80%9CYou Will Be the Living Equation%E2%80%9D describes a teenager%E2%80%99s attempts to cope with a friend%E2%80%99s suicide. This is much-traveled ground, but the story%E2%80%99s poignant insights are enlivened by the element of the supernatural and a second-person narration. The collection%E2%80%99s 30 stories, most no longer than three pages, are modern fables in which epiphanies replace moral lessons and tales unfold with Grimm-like wickedness. While the book%E2%80%99s shorter, more fantastic pieces are often little more than exercises in imagination, they provide an unnerving atmosphere in which the longer stories can languish and offer the primal enjoyment of not knowing what will happen next. As this energetic collection shows, Sparks isn%E2%80%99t afraid to take chances. (Oct.)