Title: The Unfinished World and Other Stories
Author: Amber Sparks
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories & Anthologies
Release Date: January 25th, 2016 by Liveright
In the weird and wonderful tradition of Kelly Link and Karen Russell, Amber Sparks’s dazzling new collection bursts forth with stories that render the apocalyptic and otherworldly hauntingly familiar. In “The Cemetery for Lost Faces,” two orphans translate their grief into taxidermy, artfully arresting the passage of time. The anchoring novella, “The Unfinished World,” unfurls a surprising love story between a free and adventurous young woman and a dashing filmmaker burdened by a mysterious family. Sparks’s stories—populated with sculptors, librarians, astronauts, and warriors—form a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Mythical, bizarre, and deeply moving, The Unfinished World and Other Stories heralds the arrival of a major writer and illuminates the search for a brief encounter with the extraordinary.
With such a concise and brief summary I was skeptical at first to pick this book up (especially since short stories are usually not what I enjoy reading). However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these short stories were highly entertaining, imaginative, and enjoyable tales that go far beyond everyday experience: an ugly girl made pretty, but at what price?, an astronaut who avoids all other human contact, a world where young girls are revered for hunting and killing werewolves, and two orphans into taxidermy.
Without having any reoccurring themes, except perhaps being as unpredictable as a Tim Burton movie and with unspecific, eerie endings like Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, the individual stories tap into a variety of emotions and desires: love, hope, horror, confusion, sadness, and shock for these clever, twisted, and ironic characters. These characters, for this reason, are difficult to connect with and are more on the entertainment level than the personal one.
The writing itself is very descriptive and very well structured. Amber Sparks has created a highly imaginative collection of work and can be easily crowned a talented and extremely creative author in a way that is definitely not for everyone but worth a try.