The Wrong Heaven: Stories

Little, Brown. Jul. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780316516211. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316516204. F
OrangeReviewStarAt once goofy, poignant, and edged with the fantastic, the stories in Bonnaffons's debut collection initially surprise, then turn into one long, delicious rush—you just have to get into the author's frame of mind. For class, a floundering grade-school teacher buys two cheap plastic statues—an Electric Jesus and a Flashing Virgin—that when plugged in come alive and finally become overbearing. ("Said Mary,…'You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.' 'Possibly,' said Jesus.") A newly engaged lawyer hangs out at JoyfulSongTime, obsessively singing along to a song she cannot get out of her head and finally collapsing crying in the booth. A woman exhaustively queries a doctor about becoming a horse via a newly discovered procedure, finally finding "alert acceptance." Cancer-afflicted Doris obliges friend Katie by cutting her hair, but sobbing Katie won't let Doris cut her own. Throughout, Bonnaffons shows us absurdity and carefully managed pain.
VERDICT Not just fun but full of smart ideas; as the woman-become-horse observes, "Would you rather transform your Core, or your entire being?"
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