Book Review: Better Living Through Plastic Explosives by Zsuzsi Gartner

Received ARC from Penguin Canada

Zsuszi Gartner’ s delivers a sharp collection of short-stories  filled with dark humour and snark. At first I thought the stories were just bizarre but then I found myself chuckling at some of Gartner’s outlandish metaphors or agreeing with the strange reasoning of her characters.I was sucked in and I decided to surrender to the wonderful weirdness of  the stories.

A few of my favourites:

“Once, We Were Swedes”  – a journalist who’s now teaching at a college is drifting apart from her spouse. She reminisces about the early stages of their relationship when they used to talk IKEA to each other. Loved the glossary at the end of the story.

“Floating Like a Goat”  – a young mother writes a letter to her daughter’s grade one art teacher. A wonderful rant about stifled creativity and lost dreams.

We Come In Peace”  – angels are sent to inhabit the bodies of  five teenagers to experience the earthly senses. Divinity is no match for teenage hormones and high school drama.

This collection is not filled with happy endings and we wouldn’t all agree with the characters’ thoughts and actions (at least not in public) but that’s what makes these short-stories a must-read, the opportunity to explore different, not-so-traditional views in a fun, entertaining way. If you are looking for the unusual, pick-up this collection.

For a taste, visit:


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