cover image Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas

Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas

Emily C. Skaftun. Fairwood, $17.99 trade paper (310p) ISBN 978-1-933846-98-9

Each of the 18 disquieting pieces in Skaftun’s debut collection twist reality into absurdity and are united in their exploration of death and the afterlife. Skaftun’s stories set up everyday objects and events, and spin them into the realm of the surreal; the Christmas trappings of “Dad’s Christmas Presence” take a sinister turn, and the plastic lawn flamingoes of “Melt with You” contain reincarnated human souls. In “Frozen Head #2,390” and “Diary of a Pod Person,” Skaftun treats reincarnation at greater length, exploring the complexities of transplanting souls into new bodies. Skaftun also mines folklore for inspiration, twisting classic tales to her dark, quirky purposes in “The Taking Tree,” “Apologies for Fish-Dude,” and the Nordic flavored “Frænka Askja’s Silly Old Story,” and drawing from Greek mythology in “The Last of the Monsters.” Though Skaftun’s prose occasionally becomes self-consciously writerly, which may turn off more mainstream horror readers, her thoughtful explorations of wildly unusual concepts will keep fans of literary chills hooked. Eerie, unsettling, and occasionally zany, this philosophically minded collection offers a delightful diversion. (Nov.)