Michael Czyzniejewski is reading one story a day for all of 2016 and blogging about it over at Story 366.
This is what Hicks seems to do. He takes stories, maybe even tropes, the ones we’re familiar with, and he updates them, puts his own grotesque, even macabre spin on them. Or maybe his stories are a distant cousin of one you’ve read, a minor detail in common like the slope of a neck or the shape of they eyes, but otherwise evolved, their own person. These stories are fun to read, to see what else Hicks would do, how he’d handle his premises. “The Hairdresser, the Giant, and the King of Roses” just keeps layering new characters and new twists until all three of its protagonists come together for their inevitable crash. Like with most fairy tales, there’s not necessarily a happy ending, and certainly not a predictable one. Electricity & Other Dreams is an eclectic book, filled with magical, gritty, and clever tales just like this.
It’s become habit for me, in this project, to read a few stories from a collection before picking one to write about, and Hicks’ book, more than any other, got me reading and reading before stopping to write. Each of the twenty-six stories (or, the five I’ve read) seemingly gives me something completely new, but not in the same way. This seems like a pretty generic blurb for a book, but skipping around to find a story to write about, I didn’t know what I was going to come across next. The only consistency in the book is its ability to challenge a convention, to make it into something else it wasn’t before. It reminds me a lot of Amber Sparks’ new book, The Unfinished World, too, which I highlighted yesterday, a taste of magic, of dry humor, and of biting reality in every story. What a find this is. Here’s to more from this author, and soon.
Having been to a few of Czyzniejewski’s readings, he’s a really funny and talented writer. Check out his story collection, I Will Love You For the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories.