cover image The Inner City

The Inner City

Karen Heuler. ChiZine (Diamond, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (225p) ISBN 978-1-927469-33-0

Heuler (The Made-Up Man) presents an engrossing collection of 15 tales of the ways individuals and society influence one another. Movements such as environmentalism and fundamentalism are presented without bias in “The Large People” and “The Great Spin,” pointing out both the sensible and the ridiculous. The only unredeemable concept is bureaucracy, costing one woman her job and identity in “The Hair” and another her sanity in “The Inner City.” Other stories focus more on the individual than on a particular issue, both in personal relationships (“Ordinary”) and professional ones (“Thick Water”). The tone shifts easily from fairy tale storytelling (“FishWish”) to internal monologue (“The Escape Artist”). Though the universally strong stories have no explicit connection, they blend to suggest a world that is at once recognizable and distorted, providing a new, clear perspective on the forces shaping contemporary Western culture. (Feb.)