I received an advanced review copy of this title from And Other Stories. They are a small not-for-profit literary press with am impressive selection of books. Please visit their website for a complete list of great titles: andotherstories.org
This is a quirky, bizarre collection of tales that also deal with serious social topics. Child custody, divorce, and gender issues are all explored with an accompanying twist of magic or fantasy. In one story a mum who works at a chip shop is tired of her mundane life; it is only when she transforms herself into a hip-shaking Elvis that she feels happy and fulfilled. This story is an interesting commentary on gender identity and the ways in which we suppress our true selves when we try to conform and fit in.
Some of the stories seem downright absurd. In the title story, “Don’t Try this at Home ” a woman wants to spend more time with her husband, so she chops him in half. When the couple needs more money, she chops him in quarters and eighths so he can work more at various jobs. When one of his other halves has an affair the woman has mixed feelings about her decision to chop up her husband into so many different persons.
I particularly enjoyed the last three stories. They featured individuals that are misunderstood by their family, friends and neighbors. In “Keeper of the Jackalopes,” a man lives in a run down trailer with his six-year-old daughter and taxidermies animals for a living. Business has been very slow so they rely on food tossed into dumpsters behind grocery stores for their meals. The loyalty that the little girls shows towards her father is very touching and it is this little girl’s advice at the end of the story that helps him deal with some sad issues in his life.
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME is a fantastic and entertaining group of stories with memorable characters. I highly recommend that you add this collection to your summer reading list.
About The Author:
Angela Readman’s stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, winning awards such as the Inkspill Magazine Short Story Competition and the National Flash Fiction Competition. In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ – an award she would go on to win in 2013 with the story ‘The Keeper of the Jackalopes’. Readman is also a published poet.