cover image Other Minds and Other Stories

Other Minds and Other Stories

Bennett Sims. Two Dollar Radio, $18.95 trade paper (202p) ISBN 978-1-953387-35-6

Sims (White Dialogues) draws on academia, art, and technology for a superb collection about identity and memory. In the Lynchian “Unknown,” a man begins to receive eerie voicemails from a hidden number after lending his phone to a stranger at the mall. The magnificent “Portonaccio Sarcophagus” opens with the narrator visiting a burial tomb at a museum in Rome, then zags into describing a mysterious photo of his mother taken years earlier in an Italian cemetery, in which a blurry Grim Reaper–like figure hovers in the background; the narrator’s free associations gradually accrue into a story about his mother’s worsening memory loss. Throughout, Sims boldly plays with form, such as in “Introduction to the Reading of Hegel,” which consists of one paragraph that extends for nearly 30 pages and chronicles an adjunct professor’s self-sabotage as he attempts to apply for a prestigious fellowship. Here and elsewhere, the prose is shot through with pitch-perfect observations and dark undercurrents (while addressing the panelists in a letter, the narrator “closed his eyes and tried to imagine them. The way that criminal profilers must cast themselves into the thoughts of the serial killers they track, he attempted to project himself into his rejector”). These brilliant stories are hard to shake. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Nov.)