Sunday, December 7, 2014

American Innovations: Stories by Rivka Galchen.

Readers who like stories about odd characters who find themselves in strange situations, will love this new collection by Rivka Galchen. 

As strange as the characters are, though, it's easy to relate to them.Who hasn't felt what this character in "The Lost Order" feels so keenly?

"But one day I woke up and heard myself saying, I am a fork being used to eat cereal. I am not a spoon. I am a fork. And I can't help people eat cereal any longer."




After a strange caller angrily denounces her for a missing Chinese take-out order, the narrator of "The Lost Order," comes to some startling conclusions about her marriage and herself.


"The Region of Unlikeness," is about another lost soul who befriends two eccentric intellectuals at a coffee shop. She is secretly attracted to one of them and repelled by the other. 

"American Innovations" bravely tackles magical realism, body image, and deformity.

"Wild Berry Blue," is a wonderful coming-of-age story about a girl who has a crush on an ex-junkie who works at her favorite McDonalds.

In one story, "Once Upon an Empire," a likable but possibly deranged narrator, loses all of her belongings. No one steals them; instead, in a magical realism way, they become mobile and literally walk away from her apartment.

She finds them in a dumpster but is reluctant to identify them to the police. 

Less successful stories included in this collection are "Dean of the Arts" or "The Late Novels of Gene Hackman." 

Galchen's collection was long-listed for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize.