Audra (Unabridged Chick)'s Reviews > We Bury the Landscape

We Bury the Landscape by Kristine Ong Muslim
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Apr 17, 12

bookshelves: mood-bittersweet, mood-dark-and-twisted, mood-evocative
Read from April 11 to 17, 2012

These one-hundred stories were inspired by real pieces of art -- but you don't need to be familiar with any of the images to enjoy these stories. Muslim's jumping point -- a painting -- ends with wonderful crafted story, poignant and sharp, sad and humorous. I read all the stories first, image unseen, then went to Muslim's website where she links to every image. Then, after checking out the images, I reread the stories.

I'll be honest: in many cases, I rather enjoyed the story more before seeing the image. Sometimes, Muslim's story is a literal description of the painting; when the image was unfamiliar, I savored her descriptions, but after seeing the picture, I preferred my mental image over the reality. 

Described as 'flash fiction', these short stories are, in some cases, simply a paragraph -- but the length doesn't detract from the wallop of imagery and emotion.  At 169 pages, this volume is easy to race through: I would read on, potato-chip reading, as I described it to my wife, inhaling one story after another, unable to stop myself.  Some of the stories are darkly humorous; others, creepy and grotesque.  Many of the stories have a surrealist feel to them, reminding me of Aimee Bender, Ben Loory, and Catherynne M. Valente -- helped by Muslim's choice in art. Ranging from well-known artists like Dali and Miro, she also picks contemporary artists who were new-to-me, and the spectrum of art styles was exciting and interesting.  (I recommend checking out Muslim's essay on Necessary Fiction to learn more about her process for writing; I read it during my reading of this volume and found myself appreciating the stories even more.)

Even if you're not a short story fan, consider this collection: the pieces are so interesting, odd, dark, and twisted, they're like literary amuse-bouche, or a sampler flight of strange fiction. A unique way to dip your toes into odd fiction.
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Reading Progress

04/16/2012 page 22
13.0% "Every time I want to put this down to go to sleep, I find myself saying, 'after the next story...'"
04/16/2012 page 22
13.0% "Every time I want to put this down to go to sleep, I find myself saying, 'after the next story...'"
04/16/2012 page 22
13.0% "Every time I want to put this down to go to sleep, I find myself saying, 'after the next story...'"
04/16/2012 page 26
15.0% "Inspired by http://www.ppowgallery.com/selected_w.... "And when the birds from hell burned down the cathedral that day, they understandably started with the chandelier. Nothing we did was good enough. No water in the world could dose the flames. The birds finally flew out of the church's steeple. They looked like ordinary birds, only that their wings were ruffled by the fire.""
04/16/2012 page 26
15.0% "Inspired by http://www.ppowgallery.com/selected_w.... "And when the birds from hell burned down the cathedral that day, they understandably started with the chandelier. Nothing we did was good enough. No water in the world could dose the flames. The birds finally flew out of the church's steeple. They looked like ordinary birds, only that their wings were ruffled by the fire.""
04/16/2012 page 34
20.0% "Weirder and weirder, but fun, as well. Aimee Bender-ish."
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