*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author and BookSirens. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: In an explosion of love’s metaphors, Fowler’s debut collection of stories, SUSPENDED HEART, takes on American fabulism with a cast of unexpected heroines in the narratives of life and loss-women whose hearts fall out at public malls, women whose bodies bloom with changing seasons, women who sprout blades or have multiple eyes, sleep as snakes, or birth saints like lapis lazuli babies. Where there is struggle and sadness, there is also humor: Fowler’s fictive voice has been compared to both Franz Kafka and Donald Barthelme. There’s a fearlessness to this prose, a melody of life and magic and loss. Selected stories in this volume have been published online and in Australia. Partial author’s proceeds to be donated to the San Diego Family Justice Center.
Suspended Heart is a gorgeous, often surreal, collection of short stories loosely themed around love and women (not always both, or either though).
Here is humanity in its gamut of emotional experiences: there is love and sex, suffering and sacrifice, tenderness, loneliness, contentedness, grief, regret, jealousy. There are elements of horror, romance, fantasy and sci-fi, and while the author frequently explores the female form and experience, she also embraces the masculine, and a variety of highly advanced animals (including a psychic pigeon, a lovelorn cat, and a pair of parrots on crack).
The writing is precise, as the author carefully digs out the truth of our thoughts and feelings using surrealist tools. The result is twenty stories that are just as short stories should be: emotional, thoughtful, strange, poignant, brief vignettes onto other lives (however fantastical).
The content and tone varies greatly between the stories. There are sensual stories about women’s bodies as they blossom with metal or petals, or turn into snakes, and satirical stories about avian editors and fairytale warriors. Therefore there is something for every taste, but not everything is likely to meet the same taste.
I would recommend this book to fans of the short form looking for some challenging, female-centred fiction.
Ginger Frank didn’t start out covered in metal. One August, standing in the sweltering Texas heat that bordered on a hundred and ten degrees, the heavyset girl in the peach and ivory dress looked down to find silver emerging on her arms, on her legs, silver bulging like stretch marks from every soft parcel of her skin.
– Heather Fowler, ‘The Girl with the Razorblade Skin’ in Suspended Heart: Stories
Suspended Heart: Stories is available on Amazon right now!