An astonishing fiction debut from a UC Irvine MFA graduate and recent contributor to The New Yorker.
Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses. Just because Jenny was born without a head doesn't mean she isn't still annoying to her older brother, and just because the Man of the Future's carefully planned extramarital affair ends in alien abduction and network fame doesn't mean he can't still pine for his absent wife. Romping through the fantastic with big-hearted ease, these stories cut to the core of what it means to navigate family, faith, and longing, whether in the form of a lovesick kraken slowly dragging a ship of sailors into the sea, a small town euthanizing its grandfathers in a time-honored ritual, or a third-grade field trip learning that time travel is even more wondrous--and more perilous--than they might imagine.
Andreasen's stories are simultaneously daring and deeply familiar, unfolding in wildly inventive worlds that convey our common yearning for connection and understanding. With a captivating new voice from an incredible author, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover uses the supernatural and extraordinary to expose us at our most human.
Andreasen's vivid stories favor incident over inner monologue and have notes of adventure fiction, fantasy, and fairy tales. In the title story, a ship called the Winsome Bride is slowly sinking, trapped in the clutches of an immense sea creature that mistakes it for its lover, driving the colorful crew to distraction and even insanity (this is not explicitly a period piece one character is reading The World According to Garp). "Rockabye, Rocketboy" charts the impossible, unrequited obsession of a young model with the title character, a sort of superhero. "Andy, Lord of Ruin" follows, in a formal voice, the literal explosion of the title character, as witnessed and debated by society. Not only is the premise provocative, the story is also full of small quirks; one character is fed "a diet of Kleenex and rolled newspaper." Andreasen has the soul of a poet and the heart of a yarn spinner; he breathes new life into familiar tropes via the ingenuity of his storytelling and his tendency to color outside the lines. The 11 refreshing stories in this debut collection are full of delicious detours, and ultimately they're the point.