By: Robert Shearman
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
Analyzing the complexity, absurdity, and blessedness of seemingly ordinary people, this debut collection examines the metaphysical assumptions surrounding death. From the end of a relationship to the meaning behind its title, this anthology continually surprises and subverts, utilizing topics such as alien intelligence, reincarnation, imaginary children, and even conversations with Hitler’s childhood pet. Engaging and diverse, this compendium offers a fascinating perspective on mortality.
So fun fact: this was actually the first Robert Shearman book I came across and that I added to my wishlist. It was a wee bit difficult then to get my hands on a copy of it but lo and behold, I finally did indeed get a copy of it so hurrah! 😀 Tiny side note, but how awesome is that book cover? One of my favourites that, coupled with the title of this book, definitely drew my attention in the first place 😛
I should say, because I’ve read his later books first (see author tag), I’ve actually read half of these short stories before. Nonetheless it was interesting to revisit those stories I have read in the context of the theme of this particular collection–that of death and everything surrounding it, from relationships to one’s reaction to death–because each story is unique in contributing to the theme. “Mortal Coil” made for an eerie opening whilst “Ashes to Ash” was sad in the way the main character watched as the people she loved moved on with their lives following her death. “Stuff We Leave Behind” was a lot about the traces we leave behind after death and a reflection on relationships over time, “No Looking Back” an interesting take on the familiar Orpheus tale. “Favourite” remains, well, a favourite story of mine with the family dynamic and the way people die in their lives (eek, I’m trying to be vague here, it’s a good story to read for yourself).
If I had any quibble about this collection, perhaps it’s that the story “Extra Ordinary” feels a bit like the odd one out, the theme of the story seems to allude more to moving on or dwelling on a particular stage in life as opposed to the other stories dealing more firmly with aspects of death and the afterlife.
Overall Tiny Deaths was everything I expected from this volume, both from the author’s storytelling and style of prsenting the absurd with the contemplative. It’s definitely a great place to start if you haven’t read anything by Robert Shearman 🙂