For fans of George Saunders and Karen Russell, an "amazing, wildly inventive" collection of stories that straddles the line between the real and the fantastical (Kevin Wilson).
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.
Including the story Horse, as heard on This American Life.
In the stories of her imaginative and unsettling debut, Bonnaffons creates worlds much like ours, except for the parts that are askew. Sometimes noticeably askew, as in the title story, which features Jesus and Mary lawn statues that talk (and judge); sometimes almost unnoticeably, as in "The Cleas," a tale of babysitting and the deeply problematic relationships between men and women told by a recent college grad. Except for the excellent "Doris and Katie," about two old friends coming to terms with sex and death, the stories feature youngish women trying to figure out what they can legitimately expect from men, the world, and themselves. In the longest and strongest story, "Horse," Bonnaffons imagines a world where women only women can become horses through injections; the story's narrator injects herself with the horse hormones at the same time her best friend is injecting herself with hormones to help her get pregnant. Some feature magical realism "Black Stones," "Little Sister," and "A Room to Live In" but when Bonnaffons hits the sweet spot between the emotional and physical realities of this world and the odd, askew thing that lets readers see them, the collection is at its best. This is an outstanding, exciting debut.
I’m in love with everything this author writes. The introspection… the characters… the humor. It’s all so human. I hope to see more works published by her, because I don’t know how to begin searching for anything else remotely close to this.