There is a town that brews a strange intoxicant from a rare fruit called the deathberry-and once a year a handful of citizens are selected to drink it. . . . There is a life lived beneath the water-among rotted buildings and bloated corpses-by those so overburdened by the world's demands that they simply give up and go under. . . . In this mesmerizing blend of the familiar and the fantastic, multiple award-winning New York Times notable author Jeffrey Ford creates true wonders and infuses the mundane with magic. In tales marked by his distinctive, dark imagery and fluid, exhilarating prose, he conjures up an annual gale that transforms the real into the impossible, invents a strange scribble that secretly unites a significant portion of society, and spins the myriad dreams of a restless astronaut and his alien lover. Bizarre, beautiful, unsettling, and sublime, The Drowned Life showcases the exceptional talents of one of contemporary fiction's most original artists.
Following close upon the release of The Shadow Year, Edgar-winner Ford's third collection leads readers down dark and subtle passageways onto some very strange turf. In the title story, people drown and end up in a submerged city whose inhabitants are scornful of anyone wanting to return to the surface; a man named Hatch is compelled to escape Drowned Town in order to uphold a promise to his son. Similar metaphors of submersion are applied to drastically different effect in The Manticore Spell, The Dismantled Invention of Fate and In the House of Four Seasons. In Night Whiskey, the book's strangest tale, two men must roust slumbering drunks from trees after an annual festival; in addition to sending celebrants literally up a tree, the special once-a-year bash also features visitations with dead relatives, and what begins as near-slapstick ends with disturbing revelations and a loss of innocence. Throughout these 16 stories, Ford covers much stylistic terrain, weaving between science fiction, realistic stories with fantastic elements and even some nearly straight-up (and successful) comedy. Readers of all stripes should be able to find something here to love. (Nov.)
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November 03, 2008
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