Tales from Outer Suburbia review

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009. 978-0-545-05587-1

Synopsis: Collection of fifteen short stories set in the Australian suburbs, where things are a little less normal than one would think. Outer Suburbia may be thought only to exist in our minds, but Tan shows us that it is really there, and explores some of the comings, goings, and happenings of its strange but real inhabitants. In Outer Suburbia, one will find neighborhoods where brightly colored missiles decorate every yard, meet an exchange student from another world, wait for a blind reindeer that demands a special offering, and learn how to make your own pet.

Why I picked it up: I was intrigued by the cover and the style reminded me a lot the artwork of Range Murata.

Why I finished it: One of the reasons I love short stories is that they are a literature snapshot of sorts, isolated incidents that allow the reader to move from story to story without having to worry about keeping track of characters or an extended plot. Plus, if you get interrupted, it doesn’t particularly matter where you pick up again because each of the tales is different. Each story has its own unique illustrations that go along with it, and the art helps create the other worldly and fantastic feel of the book. My particular favorite was the story titled “Distant Rain”, which deals with lost or forgotten poems, because it is laid out like found poetry and almost reads more like a poem than a story. Each title is enchanting and strange, offering up a sort of imaginary world that exists within our own which we are unable or unwilling to see.

Other related materials: Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan by Shaun Tan; The Arrival by Shaun Tan; The Bird King and Other Sketches by Shaun Tan;  The Red Tree by Shaun Tan;  The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan; The Haunted Playground by Shaun Tan; Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate; So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez;  I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson; Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper; The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman; Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch; The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan; Wonderstruck by Brain Selznick;  The Graveyard Book: A Novel by Neil Gaiman; The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales by Chris van Allsburg;  The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris van Allsburg

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