From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The author of Gob's Grief
and The Children's Hospital
returns with a sublime collection of nine stories whose wide assortment of characters, many of them children, fugue around death, are plagued by remembrance of things past and are possessed by violence. In Stab, a young protagonist whose twin died, joins a little girl in a killing spree of neighborhood animals, eventually setting their sights on larger prey. A woman who tries to commit suicide in The Sum of Our Parts wanders hospital halls as an astral projection, witnessing the unexpressed desires of her friends in pathology. And a Juno
-esque teen, a hospital regular with short-gut syndrome, writes an animal book of sublimated child-ward life: bunnies with high colonic ruin, cats with leukemic indecisiveness and monkeys with chronic kidney doom. The story Why Antichrist? gives us two teenagers who have each lost parents, one to 9/11 (which looms large in the collection); the devil is soon literally between the teens. With heartbreaking imagination, Adrian illuminates how people act out their grief on their own bodies and the bodies of others, and enter the world of the spirit in the process. (Aug.)
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*Starred Review* As he did in The Children’s Hospital (2006), Adrian again toes a unique line between fiction writer and prophet. If that staggering novel was a diamond in the rough, these short stories can be seen as the chips and shards left by a craftsman working to uncover the full range of his prodigious skill. He returns to the themes (sickness, childhood, and revelation) that have served him so well thus far in his career—no surprise for a man who is, in addition to being a writer, a divinity student and a pediatrician. Physical and mental maladies stand in for larger ailments of the soul, and religious trappings—angels and demons, visions and possession—are beatific and horrific at the same time, impossible to untangle one from the other. Each work in this collection helps solidify Adrian’s position as one of the most exciting, inventive writers working today. The moment you feel as if you’ve discovered the meaning in his words, it slips between your fingers and leaves you unsettled, unmoored, and unmistakably impressed. --Ian Chipman