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Double Dutch

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Intensely imaginative and darkly emotional, the weird and wonderful stories in Double Dutch deftly alternate between fantasy and reality, transporting readers into strange worlds that are at once both familiar and uncanny - where animals are more human, and people more mysterious, than they first appear. Shape-shifters, doppelgangers, and spirits inhabit the extraordinary worlds depicted in Trunkey's stories: a single mother believes her toddler is the reincarnation of a terrorist; Ronald Reagan's body double falls in love with the first lady; a man grieves for his wife after a bear takes over her body. The collection also includes moving tales grounded in painful and touching reality: a young deaf girl visits Niagara Falls before she goes blind; an elephant named Topsy is killed on Coney Island by Thomas Edison in 1903; and a woman learns the truth about her son's disappearance while searching with her husband in the Canadian Rockies. This enchanting and, at times, heartbreaking debut collection of stories hails the arrival of an exceptional new literary talent. 01/02/2017. Trunkey's debut short story collection shows flashes of real creative and literary talent. Unfortunately, that talent often gets mired in sentimentality. Many of the stories are in the urban magic realism tradition, including "Night Terror," about a single mother who worries that her toddler may be the reincarnation of a terrorist; "Ursus Arctos Horribilis," in which a man's wife switches bodies with a grizzly bear; and "The Windspir Sisters' Home for the Dying," about sextuplets who open a hospice and divide the workload so that the four living sisters administer to patients' physical needs and the two deceased sisters administer to patients' spiritual needs. Others, such as the title story, remain firmly grounded in realism. Like the stories, the characters vary greatly--including Inuit men, Thomas Edison, and a young kid goat and his ancestors--and while Trunkey is courageous in her attempts to portray such a wide spectrum of characters, the results sometimes lack authenticity. Ultimately, Trunkey's imagination provides the seeds necessary for fabulous stories, but some of those seeds require a stronger voice and less mawkishness in order to thrive. (Mar.) - Publishers Weekly. . . . clever and jaunty . . .Winnipeg Free Press - From the Publisher. 2017-02-05. In a debut collection of short stories, Trunkey (The Incredibly Ordinary Danny Chandelier, 2008) offers a broad assortment of surreal conceits ranging from animal transformation to a series of events narrated in the voice of a gun.The nine stories in Trunkey's collection seem determined to investigate the literary possibilities of the odd and grotesque. A single story, "Hands Like Birds," constrains itself to the relatively mundane idea of a deaf 12-year-old girl struggling with the gradual loss of her sight to Usher Syndrome. The other eight tales tackle a variety of fantastical elements while clinging to reality to varying degrees. "Double Dutch" recounts the life of a veteran devastated by war who becomes Ronald Reagan's body double and falls in love with the president's wife. "Second Comings and Goings" dips into the thoughts of members of a Lutheran congregation that gives refuge to a Slovakian child refugee who may or may not be the Second Coming. "Winchester .30-.30" describes the events that eventually led to the first Canadian trial of Inuit men in dreamy, disconnected scenes recalled by a murder weapon. Although the diversity and ambition of Trunkey's ideas make for an entertaining sequence of stories, they frequently fall prey to a knowing and maudlin despair. Characters are unhappy, selfish, or insensitive but in ways that feel like overt devices meant to engineer a sentimental haze. Stories that attempt to confront a fear of otherness, like "Night Terror," in which a mother becomes convinced that her child is the reincarnation of a terrorist speaking Arabic, seem to stumble over a lack of conviction. The most pleasurable moments in this collection are the ones animated less by mannered gloom and more by a delighted curiosity. An assortment of well-written but often dreary stories of the imagination. - Kirkus Reviews