Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories by Michael Andreasen

Short stories are something I haven't read much of over the years, so when I had the opportunity to read this collection, I decided to explore the world of short stories again. I realized it is always much easier to stop and start in a collection of short stories than to do so in a larger work; being able to read 25 pages and finish a story makes it easier to reset the next day and start a new one. I've come to enjoy short story collections and hope to read more this year.

I'll say this is not a collection that will appeal to everyone. It is full of oddball characters, strange situations, and a hefty dose of imagination. In Our Fathers at Sea, the issue of taking care of our elderly parents is solved in a neat and utterly horrible way that is completely approved of by society. Heck, the children of elderly parents think about that day in the future when they, too, will step into that capsule, sit in a cushy chair, and be dropped into the sea (along with a few other people). I think my emotions went from mildly amused to dawning horror pretty quickly. It was a very powerful tale about how we treat the elderly in today's world--we literally drop them out of sight. 

The title tale The Sea Beast Takes a Lover is a quirky tale about a ship that is slowly being crushed and dragged into the depths of the sea by a lovesick sea beast.  The men on board are running out of food, slowly going crazy, and have no hope of survival. It's very odd!

Other tales involve a man who's one time cheating on his wife ends up as an alien abduction; a middle school boy who glows with a radioactive light; a group of kids taken on a tour of a time travel museum, and a bear and a young boy who can hear each other's thoughts as they travel with an odd bunch through closed down amusement parks.  Every tale is uniquely different, wildly imaginative and tinged with a bit of melancholy and sadness. They are all, at their core, about love, connections, and the desire of any creature-human or not, to be acknowledged and cared for by someone or something. It is a universal yearning not limited to humans. 

If you like quirky short stories, a bit of magical realism, or are, like me, just beginning to read short story collections, think about trying this one out.  It's definitely different, and would make some great discussions with friends. A big thanks to Penguin Random House for providing a copy for review.  Again, another book I wouldn't have read on my own, but enjoyed it very much. 

Rating:  4/6 for a very unique collection of stories that will spin you around, make you smile, and think about what drives us all to survive. You will be amazed at the imagination of Michael Andreasen. 

Available in hardcover and ebook. 

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