I’d say the mind of Thomas Pierce would make a highly entertaining hangout, based on his first collection of short stories. Surely, he’s both observer and dreamer, and playful at mixing the way the “real” world is still such a mix of old and new. These dynamic stories are set in a recognizable present, each an odd tale, fanciful and bizarre, as well as weirdly plausible. Take the case of the cloned pygmy mammoth in the backyard, for example, or the videos of people falling down. The inventiveness in Pierce’s narration, so on par with the weird nature of reality, causes amazement, of the life-imitates-art kind, dread and laughter. His stories may imply that the universe is laughing, too. With us or at us though, I’m not entirely sure, but uncertainty is just one of the entertaining elements in Pierce’s stories.— Claudia
A wild, inventive ride of a short story collection from a distinctive new American storyteller. The stories in Thomas Pierce's Hall of Small Mammals take place at the confluence of the commonplace and the cosmic, the intimate and the infinite. A fossil-hunter, a comedian, a hot- air balloon pilot, parents and children, believers and nonbelievers, the people in these stories are struggling to understand the absurdity and the magnitude of what it means to exist in a family, to exist in the world. In "Shirley Temple Three," a mother must shoulder her son's burden--a cloned and resurrected wooly mammoth who wreaks havoc on her house, sanity, and faith. In "The Real Alan Gass," a physicist in search of a mysterious particle called the "daisy" spends her days with her boyfriend, Walker, and her nights with the husband who only exists in the world of her dreams, Alan Gass. Like the daisy particle itself--"forever locked in a curious state of existence and nonexistence, sliding back and forth between the two"--the stories in Thomas Pierce's Hall of Small Mammals are exquisite, mysterious, and inextricably connected. From this enchanting primordial soup, Pierce's voice emerges--a distinct and charming testament of the New South, melding contemporary concerns with their prehistoric roots to create a hilarious, deeply moving symphony of stories.
About the Author
Thomas Pierce was born and raised in South Carolina. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Oxford American, and elsewhere. A recipient of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 award, he is a graduate of the University of Virginia creative writing program and lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.