cover image Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory

Raphael Bob-Waksberg. Knopf, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5247-3201-1

Bob-Waksberg, creator of the subversive cartoon series BoJack Horseman, hones his wonderfully absurd and unexpectedly moving style in this selection of stories about love. “A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion” pokes fun at the arbitrary absurdity of wedding traditions and expectations by introducing a world in which engagement rings are replaced by expensive “promise eggs” and goats are routinely sacrificed at ceremonies. During a family vacation in “These Are Facts,” a girl bonds with her bratty older half-brother, who uses sarcasm to hide the bitterness he still feels toward their father. Sometimes the author’s premises go on a beat too long, as in “Missed Connection—m4w,” in which two mutually attracted subway riders stay on a train for years but never get up the nerve to talk to each other, or “Rufus,” told from the viewpoint of a small dog and peppered with cutesy nomenclature. But mostly Bob-Waksberg successfully tempers the ridiculous with a sharp tug at the heartstrings. “Rules for Taboo,” in which avoiding certain words during a board game triggers a string of pleasant and unpleasant truths, is a prime example of this skill, and a highlight of the collection. These stories are at times poignant and triumphantly silly, but always manage to ring true. 50,000-copy announced first printing. (June)