cover image The Corset and the Jellyfish

The Corset and the Jellyfish

Nick Bantock. Tachyon, $21.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-61696-407-8

Bantock (Griffin and Sabine) offers a whimsical collection doubling as a literary puzzle. A color illustration accompanies each of the one-page tales or “drabbles,” beginning with the surreal title story about a woman trying on lingerie in a dressing room, where a jellyfish inexplicably shows up and tattoos a pair of circles on her arm and thigh. Often the stories draw on mythology or poetry. For example, “Pangur Ban” derives from a ninth-century Irish poem about a monk and his cat. In “A Cruel Contest,” a girl offers to bed the first of three brothers who can manage to leap over the guardrail atop a tall building. In a playful introduction, Bantock claims he found the drabbles in a mysterious manuscript that might have been written by a “reclusive billionaire” named Hamilton Hasp (the central figure in his puzzle book The Egyptian Jukebox). Though some readers will likely find the puzzle element a head-scratcher, Bantock’s fans will appreciate his fresh stylistic approach. This beguiles. (Nov.)