Blending fairy tales and myths with apocalyptic technologies, all tethered intricately by shades of rage, And I Do Not Forgive You offers a mosaic of an all-too-real world that fails to listen to its silenced goddesses.
Each story feels like it belongs here, but also like it stands alone so well you want to read it on repeat, and while the range of emotions evoked in the collection as a whole is broad, I found myself most often sitting with that indescribable ache that characterizes the bittersweet ... It's hard to overstate the unspeakable sorrow of friendship breakups to those who haven't gone through one, but how incredible—and painful—it is to witness Sparks holding up such a clear mirror to it ... many titles in this collection should win awards all by themselves ... It's a terrible thing to pick favorites among so many stories full of vivid language, compelling imagery, sharp wit, and an abiding tenderness, and so I won't.
Every story pulls off a convincing blend of the ordinary and the surreal, and altogether they offer an eye-popping range. One piece will tumble along full of event, and the next will stretch the mind, bit by bit. A single page may erupt in a cornucopia of feeling: groans of heartache, yips of delight, a fine wisecrack or two and the rage of a woman wronged ... As a reader, I was so won over I pressed the book on strangers on public transportation ... These little dramas set you laughing even when the subject is downtrodden. Harsh economics often supply the punchline, so that the wit has a tinge of rueful sympathy ... Just about all these assemblages wouldn’t look out of place in an Escher exhibition. One way or another, they subvert our expectations for fiction ... Sparks forges a rhetoric of such warmth and swagger, it may be the single most potent strain in her magic. Even when casting a cold eye on our current anomie, she’s never less than lyrical, concocting mash-ups of outrage and celebration, archaic decorum and unbuttoned plainness.
...teeming with tales of retribution, though reducing the book or even its concept to that of a glorified burn book would be way off the mark. Desire, anger, murder, madness, robots, gods, monsters, apocalypses, love, hate, violence, magic, fairy godmothers, women as heroes, and men behaving badly (badly-behaved men who often pay with their lives, or hearts, or souls for said bad behavior): all these things live within this book’s pages ... it’s not difficult to find things to like here. From [Sparks'] ability to spin an enchanting web of story to her gifts with language (alternately slangy in its idiom and jaw-dropping in its eloquence) and resolutions (bizarre and idiosyncratic yet somehow also universal) this is the perfect collection to dip into for 15 minutes here or a half hour there. You’re going to want to—and, honestly, probably have to—read all these stories more than once to get everything out of them, so there’s no need dashing through. Not that you couldn’t. Taken individually, the pieces are certainly good enough to make you read straight through; more still, to leave you wondering along the way just how Sparks does it ... Overall, And I Do Not Forgive You is nothing short of a raging success, a volume that points to a potentially incandescent literary future ... Ultimately, the various tensions at play in And I Do Not Forgive You are of the best sort, driving the writing brilliantly. Amber Sparks may be on her way to doing something rare—that is creating a style that requires the development of an expanded critical vocabulary to explain it. No outcome is assured this early in her career, but if Sparks keeps progressing at this rate critics may someday talk about 'weird realism' or something like it, and do it in a way that acknowledges Sparks as its queen.