Friday, 19 October 2018

Book Review: The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnaffons*

In The Wrong Heaven, anything is possible: bodies can transform, inanimate objects come to life, angels appear and disappear.

Bonnaffons draws us into a delightfully strange universe, in which her conflicted characters seek to solve their sexual and spiritual dilemmas in all the wrong places. The title story's heroine reckons with grief while arguing with loquacious Jesus and Mary lawn ornaments that come to life when she plugs them in. In "Horse," we enter a world in which women transform themselves into animals through a series of medical injections. In "Alternate," a young woman convinces herself that all she needs to revive a stagnant relationship is the perfect poster of the Dalai Lama.

While some of the worlds to which Bonnaffons transports us are more recognizable than others, all of them uncover the mysteries beneath the mundane surfaces of our lives. Enormously funny, boldly inventive, and as provocative as they are deeply affecting, these stories lay bare the heart of our deepest longings.

Let me start this review by saying, this might be one of the weirdest books I've ever read. But that is by no means a criticism. 

The blurb of The Wrong Heaven* by Amy Bonnaffons didn't give me much to go on. But I love short stories and it sounded like, if nothing else, it would have some comedic value. So I went ahead with reading it. And things got weird right from the very first page. 

In this instance, I'm using weird to mean unusual, odd, quirky. The Wrong Heaven is nothing like anything I've ever read before, but maybe that's a good thing? I'm always on about breaking out of that reading comfort zone, and I certainly did that with this book. 

The Wrong Heaven is a quirky, creative, comedic collection of wholly original short stories. All of which have a deeper meaning at heart. Each story will leave you thinking long and hard about your own life; your own desires; your own passions. The Wrong Heaven is definitely a book that will leave you with so many thoughts and feelings to untangle when you turn the final page. 

But more than that, despite it's deeper meanings behind each story, it's also a light and easy read. Riotously funny in places, this was the perfect read for me after so many dark psychological thrillers. It's probably not a book I'd ever read again, and I wouldn't say I'm a new fan of this genre or this author. But it's a book I enjoyed in the moment, and really what more can you want from a book? 

Rating: ***

Do you enjoy short stories? 

*This book was sent to me in exchange for a review. All words and opinions are my own.

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