Read May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks Online


***Best Small Press Debut of 2012 -- The Atlantic Wire***May We Shed These Human Bodies peers through vast spaces and skies with the world's most powerful telescope to find humanity: wild and bright and hard as diamonds....

Title : May We Shed These Human Bodies
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780983422877
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 150 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

May We Shed These Human Bodies Reviews

  • Hannah
    2018-10-06 20:59

    I love Amber Sparks’ imagination and her way with words and the vagueness of her stories. She writes stories that are super short but filled with meaning and metaphors and hints of deeper darkness and I adore this. She writes longer stories that resonate deeply, often filled with fairy-taleness in a way that makes them feel both familiar and wonderfully original; I adored this too. The stories in this collection all share her special brand of weirdness - and weird short stories are my favourite.My favourite story was hands down "when the weather changes you" - I loved the setting of a never-ending coldness and the desperate decisions resulting. I loved how this story is fairy-tale-like but grounded in reality. The framing device of a family myth really worked well for me. Amber Sparks' manages to write stories that deeply resonate with me and I am somehow not capable of putting this resonance into words. I always struggle with reviews for short stories. I can say, however, that her brand of writing is highly fascinating to me and hat I am eager to read whatever she produces next.

  • Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
    2018-10-09 00:52

    Amber Sparks creates the kind of fiction that I’m now realizing is a sort of yin to my maximalist pomo yang. The elegant restraint and concision of the sort that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying since reading a few other (odd coincidence) A-name authors of a similar bent (Amelia Gray, Alissa Nutting, Aimee Bender) who also exude a real knack for the casually fantastical, the slyly and smartly surreal, the ability to burrow down into the whimsy and tribulations of childhood and the darkened corridors and ecstatic jags of adulthood alike, without skipping a beat or bogging down in one direction for too long—and doing all of this with well-worn tool kits of prose and poetics at the helm.Death is a near-constant theme in these stories, but it is countenanced bravely and sensitively, toyed with, speculated freely upon, and spun in a multitude of directions. There are global societal visions of its effects, ghostly nuisances, karmic rebirths and re-rebirths, homicidal geriatrics, genetic curses, subzero temperature trends that change the course of human history, and more. (The concepts of familial belonging/bonding and the lack thereof also play an important and unifying role in these tales as well.)This is a beautiful, smart, funny, painful, powerfully imagined and carefully crafted aggregate of narration and miniature world-building, and I strongly suggest you see it for yourself.

  • Richard Thomas
    2018-10-15 00:05

    THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.As its title suggests, May We Shed These Human Bodies (Curbside Splendor) by Amber Sparks is a collection of stories that is grounded in reality, but often has a hint of the surreal, the supernatural, woven into its fabric. The power in these stories comes from the awareness that a life is at a tipping point, and the assignment of emotional weight to everyday events we typically ignore. Just out of sight, behind the curtain, in the shadows, strange things are happening—dark moments that echo our secrets and lies.Many of the stories utilize lists and numbers to condense great yawning chasms of time, place, and horror into compact observations that leave us dented and eager for repair. Take this passage from “The Chemistry of Objects,” which elevates a common canister to sinister and far-reaching proportions:“Exhibit 5WW: Metal Canister. Discovered at Majdanek, 1944.The casual observer may, at first glance, mistake the canister behind the glass for a dented coffee can. The label is almost entirely gone, the faded gold paper clinging in shreds to the flaking, rusted metal. But if the visitor looks closely at the largest shred they may make out a group of small black letters, gone indigo with age and sun. Giftgas! the letters shout. How funny it sounds, like a children’s party favor. How exciting! A handful of bright plastic packets. Laughing gas tied off with curled satin ribbons.But the letters do not shout in English, and the contents of the canister were never meant to be merry. The word is German. The English translation: poison gas. This can is not a coffee can, and it has never contained beans or laughing gas or party favors; it has instead poured pellets of gas into sealed chambers through special vents, smothering those inside. Polish Jews who’d never seen the sea, drowned in their own blood.”What Amber Sparks does so well here is conjure up a memory of genocide by merely staring at a canister in a display case. To one person the meaning and graphics are merely an amusement, a bit of history, one moment in a sea of other moments. But to many others this object is horrific, emblematic of a greater evil in the world, one that cut a wide swath of destruction. And this is how she pulls us in and tears us apart—by using history, mythology, magic and the unknown to tell us her fables and dark truths.In one of my favorite stories in the collection, “The World After This One,” Sparks tells us the story of two very different sisters. Esther is the reliable one, the conservative and worrisome sister, while Ellie is the wandering beauty, lost in her thoughts, lost in the world, connecting in whatever ways she can. This touching story about family is accurate in its depiction of how siblings relate. One day you’re defending your sister, saving her from the wretched grip of a dark and violent world, and the next day you’re dispensing judgment yourself—questioning her actions, yelling at her for being irresponsible and aloof. Take this moment from early in the story:“Once, when Esther was in college, she told her father she was going on a Youth Ministry camping trip. Instead she drove the three hours to the city, picked up Ellie and took her to the shore for a week.Ellie grew obsessed with the slot machines. On the beach, she gave her room number to several strange men. Esther had to keep answering the door in the middle of the night and explaining to seedy men with goatees that her sister wasn’t well.Why would you want to sleep with all those people? Esther had asked her sister, exasperated and sad. Ellie had smiled. In just two days of sun her hair had gone nearly white and a big chunk of it fell over her eye, making her look like a sunburned Veronica Lake.I’m allowing them to become gods, she had explained helpfully. Esther has not taken her anywhere since.”There is a gentle and gracious wisdom in the words of Ellie, even if she is naïve and a victim in the making. It’s unclear which is worse—taking these chances that are sure to lead to trouble, or separating yourself from the world so that you can never get hurt?There are insights in these stories, moments where Sparks sheds light on a wide range of emotional truths, leaving us nodding our heads, searching for breath, trying to quiet our beating hearts. In “You Will Be the Living Equation” we touch on the subject of loss and pain and the kinds of people that approach us in our grief. The first kind sympathizes and offers up their own memories of grief. This is the second:“The second kind will sit with you in silence. They will have nothing to say, because they will understand that pain is not something that can be shared or solved, that pain is not a checklist or a questionnaire. They will understand that pain is not only loss, is not only sad, is not only one thing and not sometimes another thing altogether. That pain is not quantitative, but that it can be marked off with chalk lines on a cell wall just the same. That pain is not a landscape, and yet we carefully map its roads, its quick peaks, its long dips and even the smudges on the page that obscure intention or effect. That pain is not psychic, but that it does sometimes offer a moment of brief, bright clarity.”And isn’t that so true? This is such a concise and brilliant observation. And whether Sparks it talking about loss and grief, or the way that a child’s hand tucked inside your own can fill your heart with peace and love—we are constantly rewarded with moments of depth, and consideration for our own frenetic lives.I’m always drawn to the darker aspects of life, because I find it interesting to see how people deal with conflict and chaos, how characters reveal their true nature in these accelerated moments of anxiety and despair. Amber Sparks is not afraid to step into the darkness and paint bleak portraits of consequence and pain. Take this passage from “When the Weather Changes You”:“You have them, she said, her voice surprisingly deep and strong. You have them in your heart, too. Just like me. Her face was purple and mottled, and her mouth collapsed into itself like a rotten fruit.What, Gramama, I asked, trying not to get too close. The sour smell of death was in the bedclothes. What do I have in my heart?Ashes, she said. Your heart is full of ashes.”And this:“After a while, it became common to see strange snow angels here and there. Dead children splayed in dreadful poses, wingless and blue and covered in ice. The crows would circle in frustration, bewildered by the slow rate of decomposition and decay, unable to peck at the eyeballs hard as glass.”First, this is a horrible thing to say to your great-granddaughter—unless of course, it’s true. Then it’s something of a gift, isn’t it? But the second paragraph, the crows pecking at the frozen eyes of the fallen children, it’s a powerful image, haunting and disturbing, stealing a moment from our childhood, these snow angels, and turning them into angels of death.In this powerful debut collection of short stories, May We Shed These Human Bodies, Amber Sparks has written a surreal love letter to our past histories—placed a message in a bottle and dropped into a raging sea, so that our future loves may hear what we have to say. Maybe these notes will declare our steadfast loyalties and maybe they will be riddled with dark threats and doomsday predictions. Either way, they will certainly not be meek.

  • Jen Campbell
    2018-10-18 00:47

    3.5 ☺️ I'll talk about it in my next wrap up.

  • Jessica Knotts
    2018-10-21 21:51

    I picked up this book from Pitchfork music festival, where they were selling a few extra advance review copies that they had. It was a total bargain and the book looked intriguing, and I was on a book-buying-kick that day, so I got it. I do not regret this decision one bit. The short stories in this book are a lot like chips - they are small, and very good, and you will sit down and read one and then read another and another and before you know it you've read half the book. However, even though most of the stories are very short, each one tells so much more than the small number of pages they are confined to. For example, one of Amber's stories, "Vesuvius", is less than a page long; but, left to the imagination, it speaks novels. I've read so many books with predictably twisting plots, an almost textbook sort of rise, climax, and fall and then end. This book breaks conformity, and gives you all of the imaginative little anecdotes I had been longing to read. The language was intricate and flowing, and the prose was beautiful. Perfect.

  • Jason Pettus
    2018-10-17 23:09

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)Today's review comes with a bit of a personal bias; although I don't know author Amber Sparks other than being briefly introduced to her once at a party, her new book of stories has come out through our friends and peers over at Chicago's Curbside Splendor, a group that CCLaP frequently collaborates with for publicity projects and the like. But I wanted to make a mention of it here anyway, because I have to say that I found it really remarkable; and that's extra exceptional for it being a collection of unrelated stories, because I've gone on record many times before about how I find story collections not really worth people's time unless they truly are remarkable. These stories, however, are sharp and surreal, with tight little frameworks and few wasted words, the kind of diamond-hard pieces that raises this story collection to the top of that unending f-cking pile of mediocre ones that now exist in the world; and it comes as no surprise to me that such a collection would come from Curbside, because like so many local presses they have become razor-sharp at finding and nurturing astounding unpublished manuscripts. What a great time it is to be a literary person in Chicago! And I really want to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is, to actually buy and read these books instead of just liking them on Facebook and shouting from a distance, "Good luck with that!" I know the choices for new titles from Chicago publishers can seem overwhelming these days -- thank God they can seem overwhelming these days -- but if you want to boil it down to a very sure bet, May We Shed These Human Bodies definitely deserves to be on the short list.

  • Peter Tieryas
    2018-10-13 23:06

    Adding the Youtube Video Review: really enjoyed this and reviewed it at the Collagist, which you can check out here: segment from the review: "Amber Sparks, the fairy godmother of rebirth, has a wicked genius about her that transmogrifies the ordinary and makes us long to befriend the unusual gamut of quirky fiends that occupy her pages, even if it means losing a little skin in the process."

  • Lori
    2018-10-09 02:48

    from publisherRead 9/11/12 - 9/18/124 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of short stories that charm, intrigue, and warn...Pgs: 145Publisher: Curbside SplendorReleases: Sept 30, 2012Amber Sparks has a knack for saying a lot with very little. The short stories in this collection range anywhere from a few paragraphs to a few pages long, and yet they tell their story more clearly and more entirely than some novels I have read.This book popped up on my radar way before the review copies were available. And the wait was almost excruciating. Curbside Splendor teased us with the book cover, which is lovely, and shared blurbs by Amelia Gray, Ben Lorry, Michael Kimball, and Matt Bell, all of whom I've read and adored. That's always a good sign. And the title is just amazing, isn't it? May We Shed These Human Bodies. I envisioned people unzipping their skin, letting it fall off their shoulders and puddle down around their feet, as their robot-like inner spirits step out and shine like ghosts.While I didn't find a story quite like that one in the collection (you have to admit, that would have been a cool one), I did discover a bunch of excellent tales about ghosts, of both the motherly and haunting kind; twisted spins on Peter Pan and Paul Bunyan; a nursing home full of cannibals; a city that longs to travel; trees that become humans; and a magical, mysterious bathtub.The one I enjoyed the most happened to be the very first one that I read - Death and the People. It's the story of Death, who has come to Earth to collect a soul. But the people of Earth have grown tired of Death sneaking in and stealing the ones they love, one by one. So they stand their ground and bully Death into taking them all. It's a wily, cunning little tale that kick starts the collection and sets the bar incredibly high!Amber weaves a wicked web with her words, saying what needs to be said without spending a lot of effort, trusting that her audience will have no choice but to be sucked in. And sucked in, I was. Her stories read swiftly, sting fiercely, and then retreat quickly to make room for the next. Each little world she creates breathes hard and fast and lingers with us long after we leave it behind.I'd be very interested in seeing what she can do with a full length novel.

  • Sara
    2018-09-27 01:50

    Copy received through the Goodreads First Reads program."There were no books in the Afterwards, which the people thought was some serious bullshit." I fell in love with that line instantly, and it's only 3 pages into the book!What an odd little collection of short stories. I don't mean that in a disparaging way at all--I think there was only one story in here that didn't really work for me. Several stories toy with experimental story structure, which often puts me off. Here, though, it works. The overarching tone of these tales makes any sort of deviation from the standard seem like a completely natural fit.Amber Sparks has written diverse set of extremely short, off-kilter, whimsical tales. Many of the stories in this collection are inspired by fairy tales, either directly or in flavor. They are quite short, too. The longest is 12 pages, but there are many that are only a page or two long.The thing that strikes me most about these stories is how much Sparks says by NOT saying it. One of my literature professors explaining the “iceberg theory” and Hemingway’s writing style. The most important elements of the story lie in what is NOT said. 90 percent of an iceberg is below the water’s surface, and 90 percent of the meaning of a story lies below the surface, too. The stories in May We Shed These Human Bodies take up a lot more space than the slim volume would indicate.This is a solid literary effort. I’m looking forward to reading more from Sparks.

  • Michael Seidlinger
    2018-09-23 23:50

    Some of the most inventive fiction I've read in quite some time.

  • Kathy
    2018-10-09 22:09

    Loved these stories from the brilliant mind of Amber Sparks very much.

  • Diana Ashkanani
    2018-09-28 00:00

    I really enjoyed the writing style!

  • Jennifer
    2018-10-04 21:52

    Amber Sparks has the weird, wondering imagination of a child that some adults wish they still had, but most have completely forgotten.I need to buy a copy of this physically thin, yet figuratively full collection of short stories. SO creative, strange, silly and beautiful. I cannot wait for Amber Sparks to publish again! And I almost forgot! Found a small note inside this library book typed on an actual TYPEWRITER (can you believe it?!?!) stating: "I really enjoyed this collection, I hope you do too! When I found out you had it on hold, it made me wonder what else you read and what you do for fun. If you like contemporary short fiction, try Amelia Gray- she is a favorite of mine. If you are brave say hello to me!" (email enclosed) I love notes/scraps/forgotten bookmarks intentionally/accidentally sent between book-lovers via the novels circulating through the L.A. public library system. This isn't my first gem! But it's my favorite because of it's sincerity...I just hope I don't contract a computer virus after being brave enough to email this bookmark-leaving person! Anyways...about the book. I don't want to give too much away, but her short stories (the longest being about 10 pages and the shortest being about 1 page) will pull your imagination in ways that most writing isn't daring enough to do. The collection is only 150 pages, but the stories are so poetically vibrant and strange that your brain may need time to cool off and absorb and reread before it can move on to the next odd tale. Oh, and maybe weird, maybe not, but my husband's extremely beloved grandmother died today as I was finishing reading this book. The significance of this title and the death/life theme contained within is not lost on me, on this day...

  • Ampersand Books
    2018-10-21 01:04

    Reviewed by C. L. BledsoeThe first story in May We Shed These Human Bodies is one of the longest and best: “Death and the People,” a creation myth-esque story about Death taking all humans, all at once, because they couldn’t bear to have anyone die alone. This actually works out pretty well for a while. The Earth is able to cleanse itself of the damage and accumulated garbage and detritus people have left, and the People, as Death calls them, have lots of time to do things they enjoy. Of course, after a while, they all grow discontented with being dead, and Death, himself, begins to have some issues with the situation. Probably the biggest success with the story is Sparks’ character Death, the put-upon anthropomorphic-being-about-town who is forever irritated by “the People’s” demands and complaints when he’s trying to get dressed up to go out, or what have you, but is bound by a status quo which makes him unable to help them. In this story, Sparks writes in a conversational tone, but that informality is a kind of formality; let us not forget that her models for creation myths are oral stories, which would’ve been performed as much as told.Read the rest at The Ampersand Review

  • Matt
    2018-10-15 20:53

    This is maybe one of the best books of stories I've read in a while, a kaleidoscopic collection of narratives that had a real emotional charge, even when the form and especially the contents of the stories were, well, pretty fantastically far-out. I think the wrap on this book is that these are newvaeu fairy tales, and I think they probably fit pretty well into that whole Bernheimer axis, but when I was reading, I kept thinking "myth, not fairy tale," like what was happening that was odd in the stories was maybe more foundational, not local like you'd see in a fairy tale. There were moments that reminded me a little of Matt Bell's _Cataclysm Baby_, in the way the stories, one after the other, kept developing these new worlds.I really liked this, and look forward to reading these stories again, for the way they changed shape partway through and only revealed themselves when you thought them well underway.(I'm not sure I totally liked the weird, semi-tinted pages. It made me feel like I was reading a smudged up pulp book, but, despite the lurid contents, these didn't feel like pulp-- they were too poised for that, and made the printing them look gimmicky and out-of-touch with the stories, at least to me.)

  • Rachel Petty
    2018-10-01 19:39

    Incredible collection of such diverse characters, forms, themes, and how shall I say it, realms of existence? The prose is youthful and inventive. The kind of prose that makes you thankful that someone finally put into words the emotions you have been experiencing or the things you have been seeing. All the stories have a sort of "magic" to them. Just finished it and I already feel like I need to reread it.

  • Robert Kloss
    2018-10-19 03:43

    This is a diverse and exciting collection of stories and flash fiction. Both readable and formally inventive, comic and serious, contemporary and mythic, this is post-Nabokovian high literary experimental prose at its finest.

  • Tara
    2018-10-07 22:45

    Wow. These stories are so powerful. They punch you in the face. (In a good way.) I am extremely impressed by the wide range of voices in this collection. Each story is a delight and surprise.

  • Shane Bendaña
    2018-10-17 03:53

    May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks is a collection of thirty short stories, some of them a page or two in length. Most of these stories are modern fairy-tales gone wrong due to the inspiration of the idea of the fall of man. The first story in the collection, “Death and the People,” is a story much like Everyman and Dr. Faustus, yet more engaging and sarcastic. Death approaches the people and asks a single person to follow him to the afterlife, but the people are so close to one another that they tell Death that if one goes all must follow. Through much persuasion, the people convince Death to take them all to the afterlife. Like Dr. Faustus, the people don’t take Death’s warnings seriously. Away from earth, the people become restless and bored; because in the afterlife, humans don’t have the luxuries and means of entertainment they had on earth. They all drain Death to the point of annoyance. He goes to the Ones in Charge for advice. After the people are taken back to earth with a fresh start, there is new hope for mankind. The first thing the people speak of when they are back on earth, is “how they came to be.” Amber Sparks, or rather the omniscient narrator, gives the people, essentially the reader, a second chance at life—or an idea of what that would look like. She ends the story where other writers would start or continue. Will the human-race destroy the earth once more? Each narrator in Sparks’ stories has a unique and distinct voice and point of view. She uses a third person omniscient narrator when a story deals with fables and supernatural events—a technique to distinguish immortality vs. mortality. A third person omniscient narrator achieves this by being in many places at once and has more information on its characters than the characters themselves; the narrator in a sense becomes God. In stories with more of a moral message with quotidian characters, Sparks uses first person plural or second person point of view to reach a broader audience when human emotions and common circumstances like loss, divorce, and relationships are presented. In “the dictator is drinking alone,” there’s a strong sense that something important has been lost in the dictator’s life, but the subjective third person narrator does not say what that something is. Sparks does a great job conveying a sense of grief and unwanted solitude in the dictator’s life with props like whiskey, cowboys, and an almost pathetic son, but that thing that the dictator has lost, is never named. All the reader gets in the end is Joey screaming for Shane to come back. These adult fables deal with the deteriorating feeling of solitude, awkwardness, hope, despair, and loss all humans feel at one point. In “to make us whole,” an emotionally unstable mother sketches blood-flowing clouds on her children’s bedroom walls—she has no money to buy drawing paper. Her husband committed suicide after “being discovered in Disgrace” (morality plays in an important role in Sparks’ stories, to the point where sinful virtues become personified allusions). The narrator explains how her siblings have witnessed their mother’s erratic behavior since their father’s death. The mother’s emotions are understandable and sympathetic, but Sparks takes the reader by surprise when the common family go on a supernatural journey by having their new bathtub come to life—trees and dresses come out of it, even a human arm which transforms itself into family clones. Again, the story ends at the moment any other writer would label a climax rather than an ending. The outcome of this family’s life could’ve been explored more, but it “ends” abruptly as a way to leave questions unanswered and outcomes to readers. In one of Sparks’ most visually detailed story, “the world after this one,” a young girl named Esther describes a life with an unstable sister, Ellie, her obsessively religious father, and a mother who almost seems to appear and disappear out of the living world. “His gargoyle face is perfect for preaching, but bad for loving. Esther finds it impossible to love. The nose is too sharp, the cheeks too sunken. It is the face of an ascetic, a man who lives alone with his god and his demons. Now he shakes his head, like he’s coming out of a vague, bad dream, and continues on with his sermon. Esther shrugs and keeps typing on the old Remington. Her father thinks computers are the devil’s code machines” (42). This is how Esther characterizes her father. The descriptions that follow are absolutely amazing. Esther’s father cannot love his daughters because every day, he is off trying to save people’s souls. He cannot be loved because he’s always wrapped up in an internal fight. Sparks’ characters are doomed to fail over and over again because of Eve’s decision to fall pray to temptation. What this means is that Sparks’ more mundane or “human” characters need to shed their corrupt skin to that of supernatural beings to escape what most haunts them; human emotion.

  • Curbside Splendor
    2018-10-10 02:55

    We're publishing this book in September 2012. Amber Sparks' short stories have been widley published in literary journals. We're pulling her work together to show it off. It will punch you in the face, and you'll be thanful for it. You'll thank us. Thank the universe. Thank America. Enjoy.“In May We Shed These Human Bodies, Amber Sparks proves herself not only a fine writer but also a high scientist of imaginative bliss: This is a collection of marvelous inventions, each one a wonder-machine propelled by fairy tale and dream and humor and hope, ready to carry us off into new adventure."-- Matt Bell, author of Cataclysm Baby (Mud Luscious Press), How They Were Found (Keyhole Press, October 2010), as well as three chapbooks.

  • Gabriel
    2018-10-09 00:02

    I read this a few months ago, but it looks like goodreads swallowed that review. Here's what I remember:My favorite story (though there are many here) was "The Chemistry of Objects." In a collection this eclectic, it's hard to say that any one story's representative, but I remember reading that story and being really excited to read the rest of the book, which I think I did the same day.

  • Lyndsey
    2018-10-17 19:46

    "Why can't you just be a little bit brave, the nurse sighed. Why can't you.But you just can't, that's all. It's the one thing you have no talent for: being a little bit brave."--Study for the New Fictional ScienceReally enjoyed this collection. The story "You Will Be the Living Equation" ripped my fucking heart out when I read it in Annalemma a year or two ago, and it ripped my heart out again when I read it here. Beautiful.

  • David
    2018-10-15 22:59

    There is something about how Sparks puts words together, ideas in a sequence, that just is completely her own. People use the word "startling" too much, but that's what these stories are. They startle, and fascinate. Sometimes you read to be entertained, and sometimes you just marvel. This book is definitely a case of the latter.

  • Peacegal
    2018-09-25 23:44

    The children are savory and tender, more delicious than the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s. The short stories in this book all have a fairy tale-like, ethereal quality. This is a very cool little collection for those who enjoy dark and bizarre fiction.

  • Victor Giron
    2018-09-26 23:50

    I'm publishing this, so yeah I love it.

  • Moizza
    2018-10-02 23:44

    Lyrical and affecting. A great volume of micro-fiction (with a few forays into prose poetry as well). Carry this around with you to look cool and intriguing.

  • Kirsty
    2018-09-20 22:47

    I adored Amber Sparks' second collection, The Unfinished World and Other Stories, which my parents bought for me from the wonderful Strand Bookstore in New York last year. I was therefore markedly impatient to get my hands on her debut short story collection, May We Shed These Human Bodies. Despite the moderate expense for a secondhand book, and the fact that I had to order it from the USA, I decided that it would be the perfect treat to read whilst on holiday in France in August.May We Shed These Human Bodies has been very well received. Matt Bell writes that it 'is a collection of marvellous inventions, each one a wonder-machine propelled by fairytale and dream and human and hope, ready to carry us off into new adventure', and Ben Loory captures his thoughts thus: 'I always love a book that makes me fear for the writer's sanity. I'm over here praying for Amber Sparks.'.There is almost an ethereal quality to Sparks' books; her prose is complex and multilayered. Some of the stories within May We Shed These Human Bodies are strange, and all are startling. There are some very short stories to be found within her debut, which run to less than two full pages. Others are quite a bit longer. The individuality of each tale shines through; whilst none of them are alike, the collection is coherent, and reads like a singular unit. This is helped, in part, with the unusual, intriguing, and quirky titles Sparks gives to her stories. Here, they range from 'The Monstrous Sadness of Mythical Creatures' and 'Gone and Gone Already', to 'All the Imaginary People are Better at Life' and 'The Ghosts Eat More Air'.I could quote extensively from May We Shed These Human Bodies, beautiful and thought-provoking as it is, but rather than ruin some great surprises for those of you whose interest is piqued, I shall whet your interest by sharing the initial paragraph of 'The City Outside of Itself': 'The City longed to travel. He hadn't been anywhere in ages, and wanted to see what things looked like outside of himself. So the City asked his best friend Tammie if she would mind giving him a lift. Tammie took her gum out of her mouth and twirled it around and around her index finger, pink on peach on pink, while she thought about it.'May We Shed These Human Bodies is a beguiling and absorbing collection, from an author who already has such a distinctive voice. Sparks' use of language is often beautiful and original, and sometimes loaded with meaning. A great balance of reality and magical realism has been struck. All of these stories here chill, and sing, and sparkle, and Sparks' playfulness serves to make the collection entirely surprising. Inventive, creative, and intelligent, May We Shed These Human Bodies became a firm favourite of mine on my first reading, and is certainly a tome which I hope to pick up many more times in the future.

  • Timothy O'Donnell
    2018-10-01 01:42

    Amber Sparks' May We Shed These Human Bodies made me extremely jealous. As I read this electric collection of short stories, I wanted to punch her in the face but also hug her; I wanted to chew each of her fingers down to stubs so she could never write again but I also wanted to bathe each of her glorious digits in holy water so, protected, they could continue to produce such beautiful stories. Not having the book by my side, it's difficult to point to particular stories or passages but to pick-and-choose from this collection would do a disservice to the whole. Each page is worth your time. Each story is a little package wrapped in human flesh and tied with a bow of rainbow tears. As a side note, the craftsmanship of this book is bar-none. I wanted to - and did - rub the pages of this book against my face. Curbside Splendor continues to produce fantastic books, both in content and in material.

  • Vanessa
    2018-09-25 21:01

    High 4. Wow, what a strange, dark and wonderful collection of stories. I HIGHLY recommend this.Amber Sparks does a wonderful job making the ordinary seem strange and the strange seem ordinary. Eerie, reflective and thought-provoking. While each story in here was totally worth reading, some of my favorites include: The Incredible Sadness of Mythical CreaturesMay We Shed These Human Bodies (the title story)History of Heart DiseaseAll Imaginary People are Better at LifeYou Will Be the Living EquationThe Wives are Turning Into AnimalsAnother thing I loved about these stories, was the author was able to say so much in so few pages. It was really quite miraculous. If you like short-short stories that will frighten you, blow your mind and/or gut punch you then please read these!

  • Beth Anne
    2018-09-21 22:55

    One if the best freaking collections of short stories EVER WRITTEN. unique, passionate, sad, tranquil, intense. You cannot ask for more in stories like these. This is writing that begs to be read. Over and over and over. It's joyous to read this type of book for the first time as it allows me to remain hopeful for the future of writing. Yes. It's worthy of that exalting praise. Read it and you will see.