Author: Ramona Ausubel
Genre: Short stories
Pub date: March 6, 2018
Read if you like: All the Names They Used for God, Her Body and Other Parties, The Odyssey.
This is a perfectly wonderful and peculiar book of short stories. The pace of the collection ebbs and flows, maybe giving the sensation that you’re rocking across the water on a boat to a far off place. The tempo is peaceful, yet the content is haunting.
Ausubel begins on a lighter note with the dating profile of a Cyclops. This story had me laughing out loud – Ausubel’s version of the Cyclops’ is witty and funny. It’s also raw and vulnerable – under the humor, this story rings with loneliness and leaves you with a pang in your heart from knowing the Cyclops is misunderstood.
From there, Ausubel’s stories explore relationships – especially familial relationships – and the peculiarities they bring along with them. Her stories take on a fairy tale quality – embracing the mythical, the bizarre – but hitting on reality just enough to ground you in the sweeping metaphors. Danger and suffering lurk around every corner. Life goes on anyway.
This is an enjoyable collection – it was not my favorite short story collection I read this year and wouldn’t be my recommendation to a reader who was new to short stories. But, if you’re a short story nut like I am and are looking for your next read, try out Awayland.
SYNOPSIS: (AS TOLD BY THE BACK OF THE BOOK)
An inventive story collection that spans the globe as it explores love, childhood, and parenthood with an electric mix of humor and emotion.
Acclaimed for the grace, wit, and magic of her novels, Ramona Ausubel introduces us to a geography both fantastic and familiar in eleven new stories, some of them previously published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Elegantly structured, these stories span the globe and beyond, from small-town America and sunny Caribbean islands to the Arctic Ocean and the very gates of Heaven itself. And though some of the stories are steeped in mythology, they remain grounded in universal experiences: loss of identity, leaving home, parenthood, joy, and longing.
Crisscrossing the pages of Awayland are travelers and expats, shadows and ghosts. A girl watches as her homesick mother slowly dissolves into literal mist. The mayor of a small Midwestern town offers a strange prize, for stranger reasons, to the parents of any baby born on Lenin’s birthday. A chef bound for Mars begins an even more treacherous journey much closer to home. And a lonely heart searches for love online–never mind that he’s a Cyclops.
With her signature tenderness, Ramona Ausubel applies a mapmaker’s eye to landscapes both real and imagined, all the while providing a keen guide to the wild, uncharted terrain of the human heart.