2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Run From the Future,
This review is from: Cataclysm Baby (The Mud Luscious Press Novel(La)) (Paperback)
In Cataclysm Baby, Matt Bell shows you what it means to hurt. He shows what loss is. He teaches us desperation, sorrow, and hunger. He makes us accept these fates with no fight. We learn to fight, but only to survive.
These stories are short, most of them being 1-2 pages long. But they convey so much. And, as cliche as it is to say nowadays, Matt Bell really packs a lot into so few words.
The stories themselves take place in a dystopian future. I don't think they all take place in the same future or same setting, some of them seem to though. But, in each of these futures he gives us, something terribly wrong has happened. Every future that he comes up with is a horror. It's as if we are being punished for something, because living has become torture.
While the setting is this dystopian future, the theme is family. What are we doing to hold our family together? What is love driving us to do? Which member in the family is the most important? The most expendable? We need to make choices and none of them are good. But hopefully we can make the least bad choice.
A lot of these stories deal with babies - babies being born with too much fat, brittle bones, or totally covered with fur inside and out. This alone conveys so many ingrained emotions. As soon as a baby is mentioned you start feeling a certain way. And then you realize the baby isn't "right" and more emotions spring up. But it doesn't come off as a trick to play with your emotions. It's done just right. It's simply good writing.
Some of the stories are very strange. I would say he is toeing the line of bizarro. Maybe think of David Lynch? There is a story about a ceremony, not unlike a bar mitzvah, where when a child reaches a certain age they have a party. This party is about letting the child go - literally. The child fills with gas and floats away. But everything is done so believably that we don't question anything.
Is this book for everyone? No way. I think some people will be annoyed with the strangeness. Some people will be too upset with some of the images.
But the words, it's written so beautifully that it's begging to be read out loud. Some people will appreciate the imagery. Some people will appreciate the inventiveness of the scenarios. Some people will just dig the stories.
One complaint is that some of the stories are so short. I think he could take almost any story in the book and expand it into a full length novel, or at least a novella.
Either way, this book is one that I will be picking up from time to time to reread stories from. It takes a lot for a short story book to win me over. And this book did that plus some. I really enjoyed just about every aspect of it.