Woods’s puzzling stories bear some resemblance to the fabulist works of Augosto Monterroso and Eduardo Galleano, and kin to the fictions of Italo Calvino and Ben Marcus (albeit without Marcus’s energetic syntactical constructs). Can Xue’s elliptical narratives fit in here somewhere, too. But the book’s details, rendered in a deceptively simple but beguiling prose, makes for a bizarro world of its own. These are beautifully crafted stories, brimming with incisive wit, with an underlying philosophy underscoring the thrills and dangers of obsessions and compulsions, and the inevitable short shelf-life of any person, place, or thing, but also the revivifying power of collecting, as peculiar as it is profound. Also Woods’s drawings, brusque crosshatched renderings of each character, add another dimension to the book: each title page looks like a playing card with the passages following them feeling like the writing found on the playing card’s verso. The illustrations dovetail well with the idea that this book is another man’s collected works.
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