cover image The Sea Beast Takes a Lover

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover

Michael Andreasen. Dutton, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-101-98661-5

Andreasen’s vivid stories favor incident over inner monologue and have notes of adventure fiction, fantasy, and fairy tales. In the title story, a ship called the Winsome Bride is slowly sinking, trapped in the clutches of an immense sea creature that mistakes it for its lover, driving the colorful crew to distraction and even insanity (this is not explicitly a period piece—one character is reading The World According to Garp). “Rockabye, Rocketboy” charts the impossible, unrequited obsession of a young model with the title character, a sort of superhero. “Andy, Lord of Ruin” follows, in a formal voice, the literal explosion of the title character, as witnessed and debated by society. Not only is the premise provocative, the story is also full of small quirks; one character is fed “a diet of Kleenex and rolled newspaper.” Andreasen has the soul of a poet and the heart of a yarn spinner; he breathes new life into familiar tropes via the ingenuity of his storytelling and his tendency to color outside the lines. The 11 refreshing stories in this debut collection are full of delicious detours, and ultimately they’re the point. (Feb.)