How They Were FoundBook |
Short stories from Michigan’s indie darling.
Matt Bell's stories are all over the map in his debut collection, How They Were Found. There are the stories about lost love, "The Cartographer's Girl" and "The Leftover." Then there's a Little Red Riding Hood retelling called "Wolf Parts," while "Hold on to Your Vacuum" incorporates elements of the fantastic. The collection culminates in the formally unique "An Index of How Our Family Was Killed," which is literally an alphabetized index of evidence from a crime scene as well as tidbits of ironic precautionary advice about how to avoid being murdered. What remains consistent through these diverse stories is the impotence of Bell's characters, all of whom seem incapable of securing any real protection for themselves against the scary worlds he puts them in. Girlfriends disappear, families are killed, and rapist wolves prey on little girls, with no comfort anywhere for the victims. This is not a collection of sensationalistic, commercial thrillers, however. Bell paces the stories slowly and imbues them each with sensitivity. In his hands, sentiment and horror are calibrated to find balance even as form and content meander wildly from page to page.