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Out there : stories
2022
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Library Journal Review
Folk's debut short story collection looks at the eerie and absurd in everyday life. Her stories blend literary sensibilities with science fiction and magical realism. The fantastical in these tales ranges from artificial males who prey on women for their data to an encroaching void that consumes the earth, from a bone disorder that melts the skeleton every night to a very dry house (there's also a house with organs and one with a head growing from its floor). The real strength of these tales isn't how far out they are but the questions they ask about the human condition: can an artificial human whose only purpose is to steal information learn to be human and what kind of person can enter a relationship with a house that needs moisturizing every day? VERDICT The star-studded cast of narrators (Sophie Amoss, Hannah Choi, Michael Crouch, Will Damron, Renata Friedman, and Kristen Sieh) provide the right tone for each tale, never overemphasizing the plot elements that defy reality, which allows the truth of Folk's stories to shine through.--James Gardner
Publishers Weekly Review
Folk debuts with a wonderful absurdist collection that explores the vagaries of human connections. In the title story, the narrator can't tell if her new boyfriend is an especially refined "blot," one of the legions of catfishing androids who recently invaded internet dating, or just a tech bro who's emotionally stunted. Shorter stories act as well-timed interludes, such as "The House's Beating Heart," in which a house has a beating heart in a closet, a brain in the roof, and a stomach in the basement. Folk soars in "A Scale Model of Gull Point," in which a tourist island's inhabitants--oppressed in ways simultaneously bonkers and viciously realistic--enact a reign of terror, and the crisis prompts a burst of maturity for the narrator, an art teacher whose sculpture career never took off after her MFA. "Big Sur," another highlight, follows the life of a blot who bunks in an SRO and attempts to get a girlfriend with messages like, "I love dogs... I would never hurt one deliberately." The story risks a sentimentality anathema to the previous stories' cynicism, and pulls it off with aplomb. The whole perfectly balances compassion and caustics, and the author has an easy hand blending everyday terror with the humor that helps people swallow it. Folk impresses with her imagination as well as her insights. (Mar.)
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