This short story collection is an insightful exploration of ordinary lives. It has a particular focus on Minnesota in the US but not knowing anything about the state, I can’t comment further on that aspect. I found the stories to be well-written and thoughtful with a philosophical tone. I have to admit that I rarely read short stories (I like them but novels always seem to take priority) and that this collection is not the kind of book I would usually read.
Each story looks at a situation which is often a turning point in a character’s life. A chance meeting with a stranger, or a crisis moment which encourages someone to change direction and improve their life. There is little ‘action’ in these stories. They are mostly dialogue and a kind of analysis of people’s histories. For me, there was too much ‘info dumping’ for such short stories. I don’t need to know everything about a character. There aren’t enough pages for me to get to know them properly. I prefer more atmosphere and tension building in my reading. I did like some of the stories more than others. However, I found some of them too similar and wanted more variety. The portrayals of diverse characters and situations seem realistic and well-considered, particularly when exploring the immigrant experience. I think that’s the element of the book I most admired.
I noticed that in one of the stories, a character’s name changes halfway through. Otherwise, the writing is impressively crafted.
Before reading what this book was about, I thought it would be a horror story! But the title refers to people being monsters, yet there is a hint of hope in every story.