"Better Living Through Plastic Explosives" by Zsuzsi Gartner

Evolution, international adoption, motivational speakers, real estate, terrorism, the movie industry. Nothing is off limits in Zsuzsi Gartner's Giller short-listed collection of short stories Better Living Through Plastic Explosives.

Modern manhood is threatened when a redneck moves onto an upscale cul-de-sac. Angels are inhabiting the bodies of teenagers. Someone is killing motivational speakers. People are speaking IKEA. In Zsuzi Gartner's Vancouver, truth and science fiction have given birth to a very strange child, and nothing is funnier or more convicting.

Gartner's short stories are impressive. Her take on society, the way she easily forces the reader to turn their own eyes on society and see the absurdity that truly exists, is skillful. Some stories are stronger than others. Some had me laughing my head off, some had me shocked and some had me confused. But the strong ones, the ones that had me laughing my head off not because they are funny but because their absurdities are so true, were strong enough to make this an excellent book for me.

From what I have read, opinions are mixed when it comes to this collection. It seems that it may be hit or miss. My suggestion is if you are a fan of dark humour, if you find your head shaking at the behaviour of society and where technology is taking us, then this is a book you should pick up. If that doesn't include you, still pick up the book, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised or perhaps looking at our world through a brand new lens.


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