One of the things that impresses me most about Meno is how adept he is at both naturalistic and magical realist* fiction. Two of my favorite stories in this collection, “Miniature Elephants are Popular” and “Airports of Light” explore striking, original, and emotionally resonant metaphors for grief and loss. (I thought the similarly themed “The Architecture of the Moon” was a shade less successful.) “I Want the Quiet Moments of a Party Girl” portrays a young couple struggling to move beyond tragedy in a completely realistic and exactingly detailed mode; it hit me hard. I was also especially fond of “Get Well, Seymour!”. I think its precocious narrator would have recalled Salinger even if “Seymour” weren’t almost as tightly coupled to “Glass” in my brain as “Holden” to “Caulfield,” but the story of a boy called upon to defend his sister’s honor from bullying transcends homage. “Oceanland”, in which the decay of the titular tourist attraction mirrors the fraying bonds of family, was another highlight.
Like a lot of modern literary short fiction, many of these stories lurch to a halt leaving much unresolved. Several of them left me wanting more. But that’s much better than leaving me wanting less.
I’ve retired the “Needs More Demons”? metric that gave this website its title; it felt tired and forced to me. But I will note this one last time that this volume contains no literal demons.
* or whatever the hey you want to call it: slipstream, surrealism