Book: A Hollow Cube Is a Lonely Space
Author: S.D. Foster
Type of Book: Fiction, bizarro, short story collection, flash fiction
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because it is. Hope that helps.
Availability: Published by Eraserhead Press in 2011, you can get a copy here:
Comments: So my love of short stories and flash fiction should be well known by now, but it bears repeating that one has to really fuck things up for me not to enjoy a short story collection. And I’m happy to tell you that Foster fucked nothing up. This is a very good short story collection, maddeningly good. I say maddeningly because I suspect that much of his writing was amazing to me because his stories so often appealed to my own mental quirks and, frankly, personality issues. I’d like to say there is something for everyone in these 23 stories but people are weird and obnoxious in so many ways there is every chance that some of you might not love this book as much as I did. So, given all of the human perversity I often face as I discuss books, I’m going to share the stories that pinged me as amazing and hope for the best.
Foster begins this collection by appealing to my innate animism. “The Course of Clementine” tells the story of a little piece of fruit, a clementine to be clear, and her voyage from tiny “sour green baby on the branch” to a grown piece of fruit purchased at a supermarket. She knows her history, told to her from Father Tree, and has a modest but deep ambition to be consumed, as to be eaten and enjoyed is her destiny. She worries as she sees other clementines rot, she worries she may not taste good. Almost like a child from a divorced family, she worries endlessly, taking on all sorts of little issues as her fault. She often feels inadequate to other foods and she ends up living her own worst nightmare. This is ultimately a very sad story, and for a woman who apologizes to the floor when she drops a fork (and to the fork, too), I now look at all the food in my refrigerator and wonder about its mental state.
“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Chimp” is the story of an orphaned chimp who was bullied by his peers, who find his higher aspirations laughable. He spends his time with the birds and becomes a singer, leaving the jungle and finding a soft-hearted landlady who will rent him a room until he can get a job. He finds a job singing but he is not treated as an artist – he is treated as a novelty act and paid in fruit. His landlady puts him out and he finds himself forced to live with an uncle at the zoo. He continues to sing but one night loses his shit completely, returning to the zoo to face the life that humans will let him have.
For the first time in my life, I was glad my parents weren’t alive to see me like this. But then again, maybe it’s all they would’ve ever wanted for me.
Such a sad, bleak story.