cover image Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow

Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow

James Morrow. Wesleyan Univ., $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7594-4

Morrow's stellar best-of collection leads off with "Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva," about a yeti who seeks spiritual enlightenment from the 15th Dalai Lama but who instead becomes ensnared in the irrationalities of religious dogma. The collection concludes with the ingenious alternate history story "The Raft of the Titanic," in which the survivors of the Titanic save themselves by constructing an island-sized raft and setting up a more progressive society on it than the one they've left behind. The 15 stories in between are similarly imaginative gems in which Morrow cocks a satirical eye at serious and salient subjects such as warmongering ("Arms and the Woman"), right-to-life doctrines ("Auspicious Eggs"), global ecology ("Daughter Earth"), religious orthodoxy ("Bible Stories for Adults, No 31: The Covenant"), and liberal politics ("The Cat's Pajamas"). Morrow (Galapagos Regained) is a master of reductio ad absurdum, and his puckish sense of humor keeps stories light and buoyant that might otherwise have turned cranky and polemical. This book reveals him to be one of the wittiest writers of contemporary speculative fiction. (Nov.)