Murata, author of the 2016 indie hit Convenience Store Woman, is back with a collection of weird and weirdly relatable short stories. Cannibalism! Alien bodies! Distant worlds! Getting older, and more alone! These and other strange subjects are blown up to speak about the fundamental problems of living today. I especially loved "Hatchling," a story reminiscent of Osamu Dazai’s classic "No Longer Human," but with a feminist sensibility. Life Ceremony further cements Sayaka Murata as one of the world’s most interesting contemporary writers.
Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata, (List Price: $25, Grove Press, 9780802159588, July 2022)
Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
“One of the things about writing fiction is that you get to learn a lot about things you don’t know. I had always wanted to write a book about people who are from all different walks of life and then, because of a single event, are thrown together … One day, I opened the newspaper and there was an article about this big storage-unit building that looked like a medieval castle and how people were moving out of it. I said, that’s it.” –B.A. Shapiro, interview, Columbus Dispatch
What booksellers are saying about Metropolis
Shapiro has created six of the most interesting characters I have encountered in quite awhile. Each has a story so intense and intriguing and unique that it is hard to imagine where the novel is going. The magic happens when all six lives intersect at the Metropolis. All of the stories are expertly tied together in one of the best books I have read this year. ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC Buy from Fiction Addiction
I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a cast of characters more than those whose lives are connected within the walls of the quirky Metropolis. Brilliant, tense, and perfectly paced! ―Damita Nocton from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC Buy from The Country Bookshop
I loved the menagerie of characters and the
storage-unit setting! Creative, propelling – a pleasure
to read! ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL Buy from Copperfish Books
About B. A. Shapiro
B. A. Shapiro is the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller The Art Forger, as well as The Muralist, and The Collector’s Apprentice. She has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University and lives in Boston with her husband, Dan.
“I guess at the end, I want to break someone’s heart. I want to feel like I’ve made something that is beyond just a story. Like when you wake up from a dream, and you can’t remember the dream, but you know you’ve been somewhere, you’ve seen something, and you know it’s important, but you’re only left with a deep question, and maybe you’ll never know, you’ll never truly understand that feeling. Maybe if you thoroughly express that feeling, it would lose something. It would be ruined. That’s what I hope when I write fiction, that’s what I like to communicate. And that’s what I like to read—I like to read stuff that makes me ask a question or makes me feel disturbed, that upsets me somehow. I like being disturbed.” –Ashley Hutson, interview, Berkley Fiction Review
What booksellers are saying about One’s Company
Where do I even begin with this book? An original and poignant story of obsession, trauma and the desire to escape into another reality as a means of survival. This is one of the most bonkers books I’ve ever read and one of my favorite books of 2022. ―Gaël LeLamer from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL Buy from Books and Books
What a fun, unique concept for a book! Hutson brings us Bonnie Lincoln, left adrift after a roller coaster of personal tragedy and a huge lottery win. Fed up with humanity, she sets out to recreate her ideal life – Three’s Company, her favorite TV show. She builds a world that matches the set, down to the tiniest details, then settles in to forget the rest of society. Between interlopers and gawkers, her peaceful world isn’t meant to last and her already fragile mental health takes a beating. This had me on the edge of my seat, dying to find out how she’d end up. You don’t have to know Three’s Company to enjoy this unexpected story! ―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA Buy from Fountain Bookstore
On the surface, the premise of this book sounds ridiculous and hilarious. A woman wins the lottery and decides to recreate Three’s Company and live as the characters. And it is ridiculous, but it’s also raw and sad. Bonnie has experienced an armed robbery in which she was raped and beaten, her unrequited crush was killed right in front of her, and the couple see viewed as adoptive parents are also slain. Unable to deal with the trauma, Bonnie withdraws from the world and takes solace in repeated viewings of Three’s Company. What starts as a comfort becomes an obsession. When she wins the lottery, she is able to live out her dream of being in the show she loves. She soon finds that even this isn’t enough to keep her grief and trauma at bay. ―Melissa Taylor from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller
About Ashley Hutson
Ashley Hutson is a writer living in rural Maryland. Her work has appeared in Granta, Electric Literature, Catapult, Fanzine, and elsewhere. Her honors include the 2018 Small Fictions Award, judged by Aimee Bender, and several Pushcart Prize nominations..
Holy cow, I love this ‘un! I saw in Ben Fountain’s preface that the author discovered Donald Barthelme during a stint in a Texas prison (marijuana, meh.). Well, I discovered DB while dumpster diving, broke and living in an attic in Tallahassee, so dingdingding I checked it out! The title story reads like a great conspiracy zine from the 70s, about JFK’s assassination (including Jack Ruby’s shooting of Oswald) all being one elaborate work of performance art created by Ruby to introduce internationally acclaimed avant-garde art to stingy Dallas. But that’s just a preview for the main attraction. The bulk of the book is around 20 short stories that all revolve, in some way, around a beer bar (you want liquor, you gotta bring it yourself). The bar is a safe-ish haven in the belly of the beast (1960s Dallas) that lives in the mouth of the king of beasts (anytime Texas). Every style of story lives inside this collection. I’d say it’s equal parts Donald Barthelme, Terry Allen and W.G. Sebald. It comes out in November and I will be talking this one up a ship ton! That’s right: tonnage is different on ships. A ship ton different!
Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallasby Robert Trammell, (List Price: $16.95, Deep Vellum Publishing, 9781646050499, December 2021)