Greg Sanders. Red Hen Press, $19.95 (177pp) ISBN 978-1-59709-111-4
Realistic absurdity ties together the short stories Sanders's intelligent and funny collection. Throughout, unsuspecting protagonists become entangled in bizarre (and yet vaguely believable) situations. There's Nadya, the Moscow-based freelance translator narrator of ""Choco"" who adopts a circus bear; Alan, who, in ""Aesthetic Displeasure Unearths Lack of Marital Fortitude,"" visits an old college friend in the woods and discovers that rumors of a wandering robot might be true; and the anonymous insurance filer in ""The Gallery"" who finds a portal of rebirth triggered by an erotic sculpture. Between boring jobs and sexual depravity, it seems at first blush that the characters are doomed to unfulfilling, pitiful lives, but, upon closer inspection, it appears there may be something redeeming about them after all. Skillfully narrated and concisely written, this collection of short stories is at once comical, cringe-worthy, relevant and weird.
Reviewed on: 09/01/2008