cover image This Is Not a Love Song

This Is Not a Love Song

Brendan Mathews. Little, Brown, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-38214-4

Variety, both in style and subject matter, is a hallmark of Mathews’s quirky collection of 10 morally complex short stories. The author of The World of Tomorrow delves into the mind of an emotionally traumatized Bosnian journalist, incongruously going on an apple picking expedition in suburban Chicago, in “Heroes of the Revolution.” He channels a disturbed clown in the chillingly antic “My Last Attempt to Explain to You What Happened with the Lion Tamer.” And in the haunting “Look at Everything,” he jumps into the consciousness of a depressed manager of an art house cinema in Chapel Hill who takes a photography class at a local community college and accidentally discovers the joys of arson. The ambitious title story imagines a photographer reconstructing her life with her primary subject, a female rock star, using a scrambled set of photos as touchstones, while “Henry and His Brother” darts precipitously between the thoughts of two uncomfortably intertwined siblings. The tormented, misguided protagonists raise common human miseries to a higher power and unconsciously reveal the seedy motivations behind their actions. This is an eclectic, accomplished collection. [em]Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Feb.) [/em]