Love and Hydrogen

by Jim Shepard

ISBN: 1400033497

Shootings, collectible sci-fi cards, Dutch soccer players, meditations by John Ashcroft, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon all feature in the three hundred-plus pages and twenty-plus stories in this book. There is also love in a zeppelin, baseball in Cuba, and unrequited love with The Who.

Which is to say that Shepard gets around in his stories. He doesn’t just do the usual thing. The stories mostly don’t have happy endings — certainly not in any traditional of that phrase — and that is a good thing here. His writing made me wince more than once, and also made me laugh. Shepard is a no-bullshit writer. Even when he is writing about things that seem crazy, that almost beg a reader not to believe them, I kept turing the pages because I did believe in the absurdity.

This is the first of Shepard’s stuff I’ve read. I’ll be looking for more, because I value a writer who embraces the absurdity and emotion that go hand in hand with everyday living. If you are looking for stories that are a bit different, that push the boundaries of what short stories can do (in still readable, not esoterically experimental ways) try Jim Shepard. Recommended.

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