¹ Read Æ Lungs Full of Noise by Tessa Mellas ß I greatly enjoyed this collection of short stories, from the obsessed figure skaters in Mariposa Girls to the alien roommate in Bibi from Jupiter to sad Mary Lou clinging to her dead ex husband s arm in So Many Wings, which was the last story in the book and my favorite The story opal one, opal two was so completely unique and different that I just had to marvel at its novelty, written like poetry with so many gorgeous lines like this one, a daughter made from velvet and glass and guilt So many beautiful sentences in this collection These stories are short, dark, and very much alive, told with the clear eyed, fearless view of a writer with startling observations to share This is an excellent, award winning collection of short stories, and I look forward to reading the next book by Tessa Mellas.
I m pretty sure this book has one of the greatest covers ever It s so perfectly weird Whoever designed it is brilliant and needs to design books Lungs Full of Noise won the Iowa Short Fiction Award in 2013 I loved one of the other collections that won the Iowa Award, so I decided to give this one a try Judging by the synopsis, the stories sounded like my kind of bizarre Now that I ve read the book, I can confirm that it definitely is bizarre.
Many of these stories focus on characters who are trying to do what society expects from them Competitive figure skaters make painful alterations to their bodies so they can win competitions Little girls go to quiet camp and learn to be mute because children should be seen and not heard Freshman girls dye their skin peacock colors in the hope that senior boys will invite them to prom This coll This Prize Winning Debut Of Twelve Stories Explores A Femininity That Is Magical, Raw, And Grotesque Aghast At The Failings Of Their Bodies, This Cast Of Misfit Women And Girls Sets Out To Remedy The Misdirection Of Their Lives In Bold And Reckless Ways Figure Skaters Screw Skate Blades Into The Bones Of Their Feet To Master Elusive Jumps A Divorcee Steals The Severed Arm Of Her Ex To Reclaim The Fragments Of A Dissolved Marriage Following The Advice Of A Fashion Magazine, Teenaged Girls Binge On Grapes To Dye Their Skin Purple And Attract Prom Dates And A College Freshman Wages War On Her Roommate From Jupiter, Who Has Inadvertently Seduced All The Boys In Their Dorm With Her Exotic Hermaphroditic AnatomyBut It Isn T Just The Characters Who Are In Crisis In Lungs Full of Noise, Personal Disasters Mirror The Dissolution Of The Natural World Written In Lyrical Prose With Imagination And Humor, Tessa Mellas S Collection Is An Aviary Of Feathered Stories That Are Rich, Emotive, And Imbued With The Strength To Suspend Strange New Worlds On Delicate Wings originally posted on my blog, A Lovely bookshelf on the Wall Lungs Full of Noise begins with Mariposa Girls, a short story about figure skaters who go to lengths and bizarre in order to be the absolute best I was instantly reminded of the quirky, outlandish fables in Aimee Bender s The Color Master, so my first reaction was one of pure glee That feeling never waned.
Although I was reminded of the thrill I get from reading Aimee Bender, Tessa Mellas has a unique and distinct voice that is her own The twelve stories in this collection are diverse, incredibly creative and most peculiar, sometimes even Kafkaesque opal one, opal two was unlike anything I ve ever read Bibi from Jupiter was probably my favorite, about a college student whose roommate is an alien From Jupiter The planet, not Florida You d think she at le Recently, while researching magical realism for a workshop proposal, I discovered a blog post by Rae Bryant at The T.
J Eckleberg Review, in which Bryant responded to the disdain for fabulist prose that is held by some participants in creative writing workshops For staunch realism and prose traditionalists, Bryant wrote, magic realism might as well be poetry That statement struck me as funny as well as sad since I don t perceive poetry to be a lesser art form However, this blog post did lead me to reflect on the attractions that magical realism and lyricism both hold for me Some language is truly inebriating.
Indeed, a reader could get drunk off words while reading Tessa Mellas first collection of short stories, Lungs Full of Noise, soon to be released by the University of Iowa Press Although I was able to immerse myself in the voices of NETGALLEY GIVE AWAY First, what a freaking amazing cover I can t decide if I would associate these gems with Salvador Dal or Degas They demonstrate a writer skilled in the style of surrealism, but they capture the human sorrows in shades of obscure moments that take time to comprehend, but eventually raise the most human of emotions sadness.
Each have elements of the ghastly, the dark and the whimsical The stories are dreamlike in a distant elusive way You can clearly identify with the larger themes of lost and sorrow, but it takes a careful mind and patience to notice the depth of each the shrouded complexities that lay hidden In fact the little delicate whispers hidden under a ridged exterior hit you harder than the overall subject matter Pay close attention subject matter is sweeping, but anchored in a common over arching theme.
A story about divorce that was crowded with the vulgar This is another fabulous short story collection that was difficult to put down For anyone who loves the macabre, like I do, the book s cover alone will make you pick it up and read the blurb Let me tell you, this was one crazy ride I think my favorite story, though, was the very first one, in which figure skaters nail their skates to their feet in an attempt at being something else, no longer women, but Mariposa Girls , or butterfly girls It s a visceral story that makes the reader feel a bit ill as she reads Definitely one of the nuanced stories in the collection The writing is beautifully dark It s the kind of book that should be read at night, surrounded by silence, so that you can feel the isolation that some of these characters feel So that the world feels just as stark as This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book Rated 4.
75 of 5We know we shouldn t judge a book by a cover, but you can look at the cover of a book to get a general idea of what you might find inside, and Lungs Full of Noise here is a great example Looking at the cover as pictured above you might get the impression that the contents within will be a little bit different and highly imaginative, and perhaps a touch frightening And you would be right Tessa Mellas collection Lungs Full of Noise is everything I like in a collection of short stories While you can t really pigeon hole any of these stories some might try calling these stories speculative fiction ala Harlan Ellison or Thomas Disch there is something unexpected at every turn We start out with Mariposa Girls which seem like the perfect beginning The realism of the story sets a mood reminiscent of
A bit of a disappointment the story about the female alien, Bibi from Jupiter, who comes down to earth to study at an American university was great even though the premise was truly absurd an actual alien from Jupiter comes down to study at an American university like it s a normal thing, and gets roomed with the narrator who tries to make sense of the school and her it s fun, quirky just enough and most importantly works it begins and ends like a story should, and leaves an imprint on memory which might even stay there.
Sadly, the rest of the stories don t do that they re like a crazy dream you had that one night but completely forgot after two days They re pieces of odd ideas which are odd just for the sake of being odd, and become increasingly frustrating in their randomness, unexplainable element and lack of cohesive These are some of the strangest short stories I have ever read and some of the best Women in desperation doing outlandish and sometimes dangerous things to be better at their craft or to fit in with society s expectations It is amazing how quickly the strange becomes normal and is just excepted and many times followed Wonderfully different and stories I will not soon forget.