Monsters was a finalist for the 2016 Foreword INDIES Prize in Fiction.
Literal as well as metaphorical monsters inhabit this book of 38 innovative fictions. Here the reader will encounter not only zombies and ghosts, but a lyrical dream braided into a brutal and sorrowful real world. Monsters’ vision embodies the heartbreakingly private and depressingly public—and the funny flipside of it all.
from “Monsters,” from Monsters:
…At The Dollar Store, which is going out of business so that everything is now only fifty cents, they purchase a little figurine of a dwarf that looks as if it’s made of mucus and spit. The dwarf has a very wide face and a tiny grimace which reveals just a sliver of tooth. It is so resolutely hideous that they cannot stop themselves from laughing right in the store in front of the sales clerk. Good Lord! says the daughter. When she laughs she gets very red-faced and she clenches her one good fist. She is one of those who wheezes when she laughs and now she is wheezing and wheezing at the ugly figurine. Something to remember me by, says her father, who is also laughing….
“No one cattawumpuses so many of our assumptions about what constitutes writing (let’s call it fiction; let’s call it something else) as Karen Brennan. Monsters takes the form of an extraordinary wunderkammer filled with narraticules as comic, sorrowful, absurd, lyrical, unpredictable, and terraroidal as tomorrow about what can’t stay, what was probably never there to begin with, and the beauty of that, and the biting loss.” — Lance Olsen
“I love this collection. It is so haunting and beautiful and new. Karen Brennan here evokes a fairy-tale world that is just like this world, only sadder and stranger. These stories—like the author over an impressive body of work—suggest to the reader that life is a bewildering and comical dream in which any one of us might be a real hero.” — Kate Bernheimer
“Karen Brennan can do anything. Her new collection of stories, Monsters, pulls off so many feats of literary daring I stopped keeping count. She uses her humor to make you laugh at the bleakest moments and displays a spirit of artistic generosity that she shares with even the most down and out. This book is tender, tough, magical and merciless. A wonderful book by a spectacular talent.” — Victor LaValle
“…if there aren’t many happy endings for Brennan’s characters (or, really, any endings at all), the reader is luckier: there is delight in merely reading these innovative and unusual stories….” — Kirkus Reviews Read the full review here.
“…But these tales—some less than a page—are not conventional; they’re beautifully strange and often surreal. Brennan introduces fantastical elements that dramatically transform relatable characters and familiar settings into something new, like a family adopting a talking cat. Brennan’s collection of compassionate and intelligent fiction is a showcase for a very skilled author.” — Publishers Weekly Read the full review here.