Maggie Stiefvater's Reviews > Tales from Outer Suburbia

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
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Apr 12, 09

bookshelves: young-adult, recommended
Read in April, 2009

In the spirit of honesty, I have to admit that I was already biased to like this book because of my intense love for Shaun Tan's The Arrival. I was hoping this book, which unlike the wordless THE ARRIVAL pairs words and art, would live up to his previous work.

The answer is an unabashed yes. Inside TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA is a collection of related short stories that explore the absurdity, sadness, and joy of suburban life (in this case, Australian suburban life). As always, Tan's art is filled with a kind of bizarre wonder punctuated with extraordinary subtle oddities to reward the careful reader.

From a short story which remarks on the taciturn, wise water buffalo who lives down the street (who is really a water buffalo) to a story about beautiful ancient worlds hidden inside suburban homes, the collection explores the idea of what we give up in a modern world. My favorite story, the bittersweet "Stick Figures," embodies the entire book: stick figures with tumbleweed heads stand in for the bits of wildness that still manage to creep into our sterile suburbs.

As a writer, I love finding books that humble me, and Shaun Tan's books always seem to manage that. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages.


***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.***
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