Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Review: 'UnCommon Bodies: A Collection of Oddities, Survivors, and Other Impossibilities' by

Story collections can be brilliant, as long as all the stories come together to support a cohesive theme or message. That's exactly what happens in UnCommon Bodies and it makes it a great collection of stories, each of which has something to add. Thanks to Fighting Monkey Press and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 28/11/2015
Publisher: Fighting Monkey Press
Step right up to the modern freakshow — We have mermaids, monsters, and more. You won't be disappointed, but you may not get out alive.
UnCommon Bodies presents a collection of 20 beautifully irreverent stories which blend the surreal and the mundane. Together, the authors explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible. Imagine a world where magic exists, where the physical form has the power to heal or repulse, where a deal with the devil means losing so much more than your soul.

As the title might suggest, UnCommon Bodies is all about the physical, about how our bodies determine our reality and our fantasy. Each of the characters and each of their stories tries to deal with what it's like to have a body that is "out of the ordinary" or "weird". It's incredibly inspirational to read stories about characters working with what makes them unique or trying to overcome the problems they have with themselves. The body is incredibly central to a lot of modern day popular culture and social media. Everything is sold by being displayed next to or on a body, from make-up to cars, and as a consequence there are some pretty strict ideas out there about what makes a "good body". It's a skinny beach body or a muscular gym body, but any other shape seemingly doesn't exist according to the billboards. As such it's important that literature becomes more diverse and opens itself up to a whole variety of characters.

I wouldn't consider these stories straightforward Fantasy because there's a lot of different genres which flow through the stories; amongst others erotica, suspense, magical realism and poetry pop up. As such, this collection may not be for everyone though. The authors are let loose, allowed to write about who and what they please. These uncommon bodies belong to people all sexual orientations, all history periods and all walks of life. The language varies between different authors, how graphic it is, how descriptive or how minimalist. It's a beautiful thing, to be able to combine all of these different things into one collection and make it work. Occasionally you may choose not to read a certain story or you might find yourself rereading others.

This collection includes stories by a whole variety of authors which all deserve to be listed. They are: Michael Harris Cohen, Vasil Tuchkov, Bey Deckard, Brent Meskehor, Laxmi Hariharan, Robert Pope, Keira Michelle Telford, Jordanne Fuller, P.K. Tyler, Kim Wells, Rebecca Poole, Philip Harris, Sessha Batto, Robb Grindstaff, Sally Basmajian, Deanne Charlton, Samantha Warren, Daniel Arthur Smith, S.M. Johnson, Christopher Godsoe and Bob Williams. Amongst my favourites are probably Cohen's We is We which I loved for his experimental writing. Skin by Brent Meske is an amazing portrayal of the pressures of weight and body-image, while Deanne Charlton's Three Poems are a beautiful break from the constant fiction while also providing the title for the collection. One of the most inspired, however, in my eyes, was Daedalus' Daughter by B.K. Tyler, which is absolutely stunning.

I give this collection...

4 Universes!

Although not each of the stories in UnCommon Bodies was to my taste, I loved the collection overall. I raced through it and loved the originality of each of the stories. I'd recommend this to fans of Magical Realism and Surrealism, because then you know exactly what kind of reading you're in for.

5 comments:

  1. I’m always so happy when I see bloggers reviewing short story collections. Sometimes I feel like the only person who reads them. If this collection has magical realism elements, it sounds like my kind of thing. Great review.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Yaaay fellow short story lover!! It's such a difficult thing to write a really good short story so I'm always happy to find a collection full of interesting ones! Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. Thank you for reading this beautiful little collection :)

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting and for writing your beautiful story :D

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  3. Thank you from me as well, I'm glad you enjoyed our collection ^-^

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