Spotlighting male fragility, the stories of Christopher Evans’s Nothing Could Be Further from the Truth show uncomfortable negotiations with the truth of feelings and circumstances.
A jealous man wears sneakers belonging to his girlfriend’s lover to feel desired by her. After his girlfriend leaves, a man hangs with a pack of coyotes to feel less lonely. In “Burrowing,” a man’s desperate efforts to relieve his girlfriend’s depression with burrow owls descend into spectacular chaos. This inability to confront the truth may evidence self-delusion.
In, “The Truthteller,” a student’s misunderstanding of his teacher’s physical response to him is creepy and menacing. In “Registry,” a customer service representative makes an inappropriate sexual advance towards an affianced woman, deluding himself that they are bonding over knives. In “Do The Donna,” a woman is hounded for years as the subject of a pop song written by a man she rejected sexually. Elsewhere, nine abandoned siblings have to raise themselves; and a son locates his mother’s severed finger in an attempt to save his parents’ marriage, but who will save him?
Dealing with humdrum people and ordinary lives, Evans’s deadpan voice renders these seventeen stories, often slight but tuned to knife-edge moments, with humor and surrealism. Occasionally, the humor drifts into bleakness. In “Dissection of Passion,” a repressive regime’s “greatest writer” is showered with mysterious gifts from a fan. And animals populate these stories in accompaniment to mental breakdowns: falling birds, fire-starting cats, and writhing silverfish underscore human inadequacy and failure to accord proper significance to emotional truths.
This is a wonderful collection from a sure-footed writer with a great ear for dialogue. Meticulously observed, the stories illustrate how ordinary life often thrums with mysterious, elusive truths just waiting to be grasped, if only we are brave enough.
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