Starred Review. Queen of Gonzo What (Olympic Games) drags love out of its gooey, schmaltzy rut and takes it for a joyride in this exuberant collection of 17 stories. Finger Talk is a poignant take on unwanted pregnancy and cavalier men. Babies gives a Kafkaesque touch to a pregnancy that may or may not have been affected by pesticides during the first trimester. All My Children asks whether the provider of a sperm sample is legally responsible for the children that come from its use—and if he is, how does he pay for 10,000 college tuition fees? The 1999 Nebula-winning The Cost of Doing Business posits possibly the most incredible premise in the book: a love for others that is completely selfless and nonjudgmental. No matter how brief or long, no matter how bizarre, each tale in this collection grabs readers and demands they rethink how they see all the myriad forms of love. (July)
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*Starred Review* An ace at the new weirdness defined by the anthology Feeling Very Strange (2006), What uses it to be creepy, polemical, and funny, all at once or in various blendings. These 17 stories progress from grim to laugh-out-loud ludicrous without ever derogating their common subject, love, though they do depict it as fairly insane. The opening stories, “Finger Talk” and “Babies,” feature women in abusive relationships they don’t want to change; that one is trapped in a gorilla suit and the other is, unbeknownst to hubby, carrying sextuplets leavens their dire circumstances some, but enough? “The Cost of Doing Business” is about a professional victim, whose clients must be able to afford her subsequent hospitalizations and quite adequate comfort between jobs. Things lighten up through the predicaments of a man who masturbated for science when 18 and at 49 discovers he has thousands of offspring, a man who realizes that work doesn’t proliferate during vacation without cause, a nauseating senior who expects familial love although he intends to live forever, and others, until at last there is the hermit researcher’s tale, from which we learn, through a vale of our own tears of laughter, why there are always hermits. Love is why, of course. Crazy! --Ray Olson