A Tree or a Person or a Wall

Matt Bell. Soho, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-61695-523-6
Bell’s (Scrapper) collection packages 17 stories with one novella, “Cataclysm Baby.” These fables plumb the depths of human longing and depravity. In the titular story, which opens the collection, a man with rough hands—it’s implied he has done violence in his past—holds a boy prisoner with an albino ape in a small room, where the boy begins to transform. This dark coming-of-age tale sets the tone for the rest of the collection. Each story is infused with the sense that there is something unseen and dangerous in the distance. In “His Last Great Gift,” a spiritualist preacher visited by the ghosts of America’s Founding Fathers directs the creation of an intricate motor that will usher in a new utopia. “A Long Walk with Only Chalk to Mark the Way” is a retelling of Theseus’s battle with the Minotaur, taking place in a hospital with a dying child. The settings, and Bell’s sentences, reflect the shadowy emotional tenor of the collection: murky lakes, a mysterious satellite tower. The total effect is a collection that resonates like a tuning fork, lingering after the book is closed. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2016
Release date: 09/13/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-61695-524-3
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