From Publishers Weekly
Bradford's bizarre, species-crossing debut collection of 12 stories hits the mark with its singular characters and odd scenarios, its eccentricities blissfully unforced. Peopled by a cast of hybrid dog-men, cat-faced circus freaks and sweetly bemused, more-or-less ordinary humans, these tales are compact gems, at once provocative and sweet. "Mattress" chronicles the nameless narrator's quest for the eponymous bedding, showcasing the carefree, harmless ethos of a genuine slacker; the plot of "Six Dog Christmas" can be deduced from the title, yet this delicious morsel (it clocks in at under five pages) is a serious charmer. Longer and less focused, though still held together by Bradford's loopy internal logic, is the meandering "Dogs," in which a man impregnates a dog, thus initiating an unsettling series of events involving potential messiahs and a woman in an iron lung giving birth to a litter of puppies. Though Bradford plays with weighty ideas (faith, the line separating man and beast), his less-is-more style may leave some readers wishing for a thicker, meatier text to chew on. However, even the most skeptical will be charmed by his guileless narrative voice. Every story is told from the first person, and though Bradford employs several narrators, the voice throughout remains consistent. Frank, good-hearted, slightly nave, almost childlike in its simple chronicling of events, it will engage the reader immediately. (Aug. 24)Forecast: Bradford, an O. Henry Award winner, will attract younger readers with his particular brand of wacky weirdness. Though the jacket a closeup of a dog doesn't indicate the strange goings-on within, raves from Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace and David Sedaris will snag browsers.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Of the 12 stories in this first collection by O. Henry Award-winning author Bradford, seven are about dogs. The lead story, Catface, tells of a mutant family, mutant puppies, and a young man whose generosity embraces them all. Mattress recounts the humorous high jinks of buying and losing a mattress, while in South for the Winter the oddball narrator borrows his blind friend's car for a jaunt to a warmer climate. Mollusks is the goofy, far-out tale of finding a gargantuan slug in a glove compartment, and the outlandish and playful Little Rodney and Bill McQuill entertain as well. Using first-person narrative throughout, Bradford makes the bizarre seem plausible, but both characters and stories can be troubling and upsetting. Bradford peoples his tales with society's dropouts, misfits, and outcasts, burdened with a whole gamut of emotional and physical problems. Even so, he reserves a place for innocence, and the stories have an upbeat ending. For larger fiction collections.Mary Szczesiul, Roseville P.L., MI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.