cover image Green Frog: And Other Stories

Green Frog: And Other Stories

Gina Chung. Vintage, $17 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-5934-6936-1

Chung’s dynamic collection (after the novel Sea Change) employs various genres and styles to illuminate her Korean American characters’ grief and regret. The evocative and playful opener, “How to Eat Your Own Heart,” which will put readers in mind of Lorrie Moore, takes the form of a macabre set of instructions for recovering from heartbreak: “Plunge your heart into the boiling water the way you would for lobster.” Some stories utilize elements of Korean folklore. For example, “Human Hearts” follows a young kumiho (a fox-like creature) who plots to avenge her sister’s death at the hands of a shaman and lives with the knowledge that she was always second-best in her mother’s eyes. Other entries verge into science fiction. In “Presence,” Amy gets a divorce from her husband after his memory-uploading biotech company is investigated for malfeasance. Chung shines the most when portraying intense emotions with realism, such as in the beautifully strange closer, “The Love Song of the Mexican Free-tailed Bat,” about a woman tenderly caring for her dead scientist father’s bats in the way she wishes he’d cared for her. Chung’s talents are on full display in these contemplative tales. Agent: Danielle Bukowski, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Mar.)