Bliss Montage: Stories

Farrar. Sept. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9780374293512. $25. F
NYPL Young Lion Ma (Severance) reveals the absurdity of the everyday through push-the-envelope stories that feel weird and disturbing, perhaps self-consciously so, until the reader surrenders to their sensibility and decides that they’re brilliant. A woman lives in a large compound with her husband and all her former boyfriends; one runs off, hunted by the police, and in a follow-up story the protagonist spots him on the street, follows him, and reveals startling truths about him to his suddenly anxious new lover. A young woman on the verge of a new life has a last-minute visit with a friend she hasn’t seen for some time, as they have little in common and mostly bonded over a drug they once took together; the power play here is as scary as it is absolute. In a story of marital tension that forces us to ponder how well we know the people to whom we’re closest, a wife travels with her husband to his homeland, the backwater Garbosa, and learns that the festival he wants to attend involves burying oneself alive as a means of renewal. Throughout, the surreal prickles the skin but starts to feel almost welcomingly familiar.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers looking for an inventive take on contemporary life.
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