I hope everyone out there is doing well. I just wanted to post this review of Monstrous Alterations from Publishers Weekly here, if you’re not following me on one of my socials. It’s made me a very happy writer. I hope if you’ve purchased the collection, and if you’ve begun reading it, that you’re enjoying the stories!
Christopher Barzak. Lethe, $20 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-59021-761-0
Drawing from diverse literary antecedents—including fairy tales like “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and recurring motifs in the works of Kafka—this confident collection from Shirley Jackson Award winner Barzak (The Gone Away Place) gives voice to marginal figures from classic literature. Teasing out themes of class, gender, and forbidden desire, these 10 tales shine in the care they show their formerly voiceless subjects. By shifting the focus onto characters the original authors treated as caricatures or plot devices—including the housekeeper from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and the girl who is trampled at the start of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde—Barzak creates space for subversion and social commentary. Though many pieces rely heavily on the original texts such that readers less familiar with them will miss out on some nuance, food for thought abounds. Highlights include “Invisible Men,” a riff on HG Wells’s The Invisible Man, which offers a keen interrogation of class and visibility written in historical Sussex dialect, and “Dorothy, Rising,” which draws from The Wizard of Oz and expands Dorothy’s cyclone ride into a narrative in itself. Readers of speculative fiction and classic literature buffs alike will find much to savor. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Sept.)