cover image Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

Kim Fu. Tin House, $16.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-951142-99-5

Poet and novelist Fu (The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore) delivers a stellar story collection that grounds tales of magical realism in her characters’ emotional realities. In “Liddy, First to Fly,” preteen narrator Grace and her friends pop the bumps on Liddy’s legs, prompting the appearance of feathers and wings. The mysterious development dovetails with the friends’ own normal pubescent changes, and Grace muses, “The realm of pretend had only just closed its doors to us, and light still leaked through around the edges.” “Time Cubes,” set in a mall where kiosks sell cubes that demonstrate the life cycles of plants and animals, follows a woman named Alice who lives and works in the building as a lab tech. Identifying as a “Depressive Insider,” she goes to therapy in the mall and she tries dating apps. In “Sandman,” a hooded figure shows up in the night on a woman named Kelly’s bed wearing a robe that contains a multitude of sand, which Kelly, who is unafraid of the sandman and suffers from insomnia, is eager to consume. An earnest coworker gives Kelly tips to help her sleep, but the sandman becomes her salvation. Fu’s stories crackle with quirky plots, and her characters’ problems and hunger for new possibilities are palpable. This is a winner. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (Feb.)