I can’t say enough about this weird little gem of a book. An amorous sea beast, a cannibalistic captain, and alien abductees are just a few of the oddities that fill this collection. There are 11 stories and all are vivid, humorous, and paradoxical. Andreasen has written a noteworthy debut, one absolutely worth your consideration. The title story in the collection is my favorite, but I am likely to swoon over an unexpected John Irving reference (there’s also a bear in another story), especially when said reference is The World According to Garp being read by a doomed sailor on a ship being wooed to death by a lovesick kraken.
On the fence? You can get a good feel for the author’s style and sense of humor in story The King’s Teacup at Rest, which appeared in the New Yorker. I particularly love this exchange from within the story:
The hot-dog stand. A few bloated green wieners still floating in a steel pond of brine. Fungal buns spill out of the trolley’s lower compartment. Pigeons have been at them. A few are still lying in dizzy, half-dead piles nearby. The smell of the cart has made the bear* morose.
“Forgive me, sire,” the steward says, “but these look unfit for Your Majesty’s consumption.”
“We will eat them,” the king declares. “Relish?”
“Also unwise,” the steward says.
“Just a dab, then.”
“Please, sire,” the steward entreats, “recall the fish tacos at the Morristown County Fair.” He looks to the scout for help. The boy says nothing, pretending instead to read a smear of pigeon droppings on the cotton-candy machine.
“Serve and obey,” the king says.
The steward bows. With a handkerchief over his nose, he constructs something that, in a world without proper standards, could be considered a hot dog. He serves it to the king on a small silver platter drawn from his attaché case. The king stuffs the mass into his face, rancid mustard peeling down his chin and onto the mange of his ermine.
“Passable,” the king declares. “Now take us to the rides.”
If you like your fiction strange and your stories short, pick up The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen forthwith.
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*I received a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.