Monday, March 12, 2012

Staff Pick - The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman

Every now and again, a book will catch me completely off guard. I'll read a book that totally exceeds my expectations and I then regret having put off reading it for so long. The Tiny Wife (M), by Andrew Kaufman was such a book for me.

I am not a big fan of magic realism or fantasy. I like my stories to be grounded in reality. Strange then that I found such delight in reading Andrew Kaufman's novella, The Tiny Wife. Although it is chock-a-block with fantastical elements, I found it to be quite philosophical and very thought provoking.

The basic plot of the story is that a bank robber steals from an assortment of people waiting in line at a bank. The robber doesn't steal their money, but rather asks each person to give him the most prized possession they have with them. One person gives up a well worn copy of Camus' The Stranger, another gives up a picture of her children, another gives a calculator, etc... The robber tells them all that he has taken 51% of their souls and that they need to learn to grow their souls back, or they will die.

The story progresses by recounting the strange events and encounters experienced by the victims of the robber. One woman turns into candy, another is pursued by her tattoo, which has come to life. Another woman shrinks a little each day. And so on... All quite fantastical. But there is deeper meaning buried in these odd little stories. One reviewer likened the stories to adult fairytales, which I think is a great description. That is how the book felt to me - quirky little vignettes infused with lessons of love, loss and gratitude.

Kaufman certainly has a great way with language and a wild imagination. This novella was a real treat for me. I now look forward to reading The Waterproof Bible (M) and All My Friends Are Superheroes (M).

Checkout the book trailer by Tom Percival below:

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