A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space by S.D. Foster (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, horror, fantasy, simultaneously upscale and bizarre
Rating: 4.67 out of 5 stars
Summary: A collection of bizarro short stories, from the life and pursuits of a clementine, to a chimp who wants to make it big, toys that come to life, overprotective parents, a rat who gets a job as an exterminator, and everything in between. A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space has it all. With rich prose and enjoyable stories, S.D. Foster’s debut collection is nothing short of amazing. This is one bizarro novel you do not want to miss.
Come one, come all to another Bizarro Blursday, where we review bizarro submissions sure to stun and amaze! Today I have the end all be all collection of short stories, which are so damn good that I could not stop reading. Bizarro fans would be remiss to not purchase it and continue S.D. Foster’s authorly existence with Eraserhead Press. The more books sold the greater the author’s chance to continue publishing. <– The basic gist of the New Bizarro Author Series.
I have read a decent amount of bizarro fiction. I am not a connoisseur of bizarro, I have a lot more reading to do until I get to that point, but despite this I have read a wide variety of stories from a good deal of authors. Which is why it is safe to say that this is one of the most well written books of the genre that I’ve gotten my hands on. The prose is top notch, teetering between the strange and the beautiful. The language is vivid, and there is a wide arrange of stories with something for everyone. Think Aesop’s Fables, but twisted and with less defined morals.
With more than twenty stories, there is sure to be a tale for a wide range of taste levels. Like stories about talking animals who act like humans? There’s those. Like tales of inanimate objects and how they view the world? Those exist here too. Want humans finding themselves in strange situations? Look no further. Enjoy happy endings? Well, there’s not many of those, but I love an unhappy ending when it fits in well with the resolution. See: any horror movie.
If you are looking for a happy ending, turn away from this collection. There’s morals galore (not all of them easily defined) but not necessarily happily ever afters. With realizations such as, not every life ends with a bang, aging cannot be halted, not all dreams can be reality, anything is better than loneliness, nothing is eternal, everything is disposable, it’s not too late to live the life you want, etc happiness is pretty far off. The majority of the tales are dark, morbid, and not very uplifting… Which is just the way I like them. Ultimately, the author dissects the realities of life through a fantastical lens, showing us realistic truths in imagined ways.
Foster opens with a tale about a clementine with big dreams, titled “The Course of Clementine”. As she grows, Father Tree tells her about all the fame and renown her fellow clementines had after harvest, being eaten by politicians and made into perfumes for celebrities. Clementine hopes to have such a fulfilled life (a foods purpose to be consumed in some way) and we are taken along through her existence, from a travel across the ocean, arrival in a grocery store, and finally to the place which holds her destiny. The tale is a wonderful opener, discussing birth, destiny, and the purpose of live, all told through the precocious thoughts of a clementine.
The next story which stuck out is the life of Nobody the Chimp, who harangued by his fellow apes runs away to the city to live out his dreams of being a singer. In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Chimp”, despite their lack of support, Nobody finds his niche as a novelty act at a bar called the Scrofulous Pip. With big dreams and a trusting nature, the owner of the bar takes advantage of the chimp, who eventually leaves when he realizes he is being sorely underpaid, even for a singing monkey. Poor Nobody, if only he knew what Scrofulous meant he probably wouldn’t have been so disappointed with the end result.
In “Matilda Goes Shopping”, a woman gets raped by an entire grocery store and nine months later gives birth to Marquette, who is made up of all five food groups. After wasting her life caring for her brother, who is deathly afraid of hunger, it’s pretty dangerous to give birth to a daughter made of food. Matilda sends Marquette into the world, warning her to, “Stay away from hot ovens. Say no to men with strange utensils… Trust only anorexics.” This is perhaps the most bizarro oriented story in the collection and is equally horrifying and thought provoking.
“Unbreakable” is the most depressing story, about a sick child and her toys: Petal and Clown. The two discuss the ill health of their owner, with Clown explaining how the girl often has to go to a toy hospital to get fixed. Humanity is explained in this tale in relation to toys, couching things in terms the two playmates can understand. “What happens to the unfixable ones?” asks Petal, to which Clown replies, “They’re put back in their boxes.” Pretty sure I had to stop reading and just think about the beauty of that statement upon reading it.
Society loves Christmas. Most would not like this impressive metaphorical story entitled, “The Lingering Death of Christmas”, which discusses the loss of Christmas magic in all of us as we age. As children, Christmas is exciting, because hey, Santa, elves, reindeer, flying, cookies! What’s not to love about Christmas? As we grow older however, we ultimately lose this magical feeling that Christmas used to imbue in us. Foster explains this is the most frightening way possible, with a little dark humor thrown in. Think chimney smell. This coalesces in the mother and father’s argument about how their fireplace is unusable. When their son asks how Santa will bring them presents, the father suggests they leave the door open because Santa is progressive. “Open? At night!” the mother yells, “Is the modern Santa familiar with contemporary crime statistics?”
Special props go out to, Nordin the Noggin (“The Marvelous Head”), who fights old age by replacing his head with various found objects, the titular story (“A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space”) in which a plastic kid’s meal princess comes to life, Rutherford (“The Sheltering of Rutherford”) and his overprotective parents who wrap him in bubble wrap and tie weights around him to force him to crawl, deaf/mute soldier Kellen Heller (“War and Peace”), a husband and wife who aren’t murderous enough for their reunion (“Class of ’00”), and Mrs. Rat, who eats all her asymmetrical babies and forces her husband to act more human (“Mr. Rat”). Whooo, that was a mouth full. Type full? Word full? It was a something… Besides a run on sentence.
-Rich, intelligent, vivid prose
-Wide range of stories, that cover people, animals, and inanimate objects
-Stories are inventive, original, and damn well-written
-Could live in the world of regular fiction, no offense bizarro
-Not every story is a winner, but about 95% of them are amazeballs
For only $9 ($5 if you have a Kindle) you can purchase what has thus far been my favorite bizarro collection ever. Whether looking to read about a plant, animal, or mineral, A Hollow Cube is a Lonely Space has everything imaginable within its pages. It even has things unimagined. If it tickles your fancy, please buy a copy, and help S.D. foster continue writing within the bizarro sphere.