cover image Her Body Among Animals

Her Body Among Animals

Paola Ferrante. Book*hug, $20 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-77166-838-5

The 11 stories in Ferrante’s decadent and haunting fiction debut (after the poetry collection What to Wear When Surviving a Lion Attack) all hinge on women attempting to establish boundaries in a world that constantly pushes against their minds and bodies. In “When Foxes Die Electric,” a sex robot named Harmony is programmed to feel but not to think, particularly about the monstrous behavior of one of her creators. “The Underside of a Wing” explores trauma, Hitchcock, and mental illness as it follows an alcoholic graduate student who is visited by a spectral albatross. In “Everyday Horror Show,” a horror filmmaker grapples with isolation and psychosis as she faces the difficulties of motherhood. “Cobwebs” chronicles the fallout of an unfulfilled wife’s decision to break free of her constricted life by transforming into a spider. The heroine of “A Trick of the Dark” contends with a husband who intermittently turns into a dragon and has no qualms about hurting her. The tone throughout is hypnotic and visceral, weaving the richness of poetry with the economy of genre prose. There is no filler here; each story is devastating, brilliantly imaginative, and almost impossible to summarize neatly. Ferrante is a vital new voice in short fiction. Agents: Marilyn Biderman and Amanda Orozco, Transatlantic Agency. (Sept.)