cover image The Girl on the Swing and At Night in Crumbling Voices

The Girl on the Swing and At Night in Crumbling Voices

Peter Grandbois. Wordcraft of Oregon, $12 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-877655-86-9

Inspired by science fiction B-movies of the 1950s, this pair of novellas deploys monsters as mirrors that reflect the vulnerabilities of their human characters. In “The Girl on the Swing” (a riff on The Quatermass Experiment), a father’s reaction to his teenage daughter’s gradual transformation into a plant-like entity evokes parental despair over children who mature in unexpected and undesired ways. “At Night in Crumbling Voices” references the creatures of The Mole People in its integration of personal case studies, police reports, and scholarly papers; the subterranean world represents the realm of unexplored possibilities longed for by people trapped in routine lives in the everyday world. Grandbois (The Glob Who Girdled Granville and The Secret Lives of Actors) tempers the pathos of his characters’ experiences with gentle humor that acknowledges the absurdity of the stories’ premises. These stories show how fantastical tropes can be perfect touchstones for exploring universal human experiences. (Mar.)