Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: Tales from Outer Suburbia

This is another book by Shaun Tan, who wrote The Arrival completely without words. Since that's one of my favorite graphic novels I was looking forward to this. It's a collection of (very) short stories, often punctuated with large illustrations, but it is still more about the words than the pictures. I read this one together with Sam and it was interesting -- I don't think he's ever been exposed to fanciful fiction like this before, in which every story is matter-of-factly told, and everything is familiar, except for one outlandish fiction in each (say, an alien exchange student, or a deep-sea diver wandering around the neighborhood). Each story has some deep current underneath it. There's two that still stand out to me -- one in the middle about marriage and one toward the beginning about a sad child. The former is not what I expected from a young-adult book like this but it is very well done. Bottom line: it's like a box of chocolates, and if one story is semi-normal I guarantee the next one will surprise you. Great for introducing what fanciful fiction can do to a young boy.

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