A young girl receives letters from her lost doll; a cat madly in love with her human neighbor; a bored office worker escapes his monotonous life by traveling on his grandfather’s model train; a man gives all of himself to the woman he loves, piece by piece. This collection contains selections from three previously published anthologies, bringing together in one volume some of Palma’s most celebrated stories, now translated into English for the first time.
... captivating ... at times reads like an assemblage of Twilight Zone episodes made even more vivid on the printed page ... What elevates Palma’s storytelling is that he plumbs the most mundane aspects of everyday life and the most invisible of human beings, the sort of people we pass on the street without noticing, and uses them as launching pads for phantasmagoric flights of the imagination.
In the realm of fantastic short fiction, fantasy often lives right next door to horror, and Spanish writer Palma’s...collection of dark fantasy is a very good example of that. The stories center around the general theme of love, though how this love is expressed is often bizarre or gruesome ... Palma uses elegant language to evoke compelling, dream-like scenarios that are in turn hypnotic, sad, and frightening. In stories like these, carefully crafted language is essential to evoke the necessary captivating atmosphere, and translators Caistor and Garcia capture Palma’s elegant wordplay. This book is just the ticket for readers seeking escape from the mundane into a dark dreamworld. Fans of the short fiction of Neil Gaiman will find much to like in Palma’s dark fantasy tales.
In 'Snow Globe,' one of the stronger tales, a traveling encyclopedia salesman masquerading as the dead son of a senile and grief-stricken elderly woman describes the title item as 'a toy world that obeys its own laws….Everything inside it works differently.' It's a metaphor for the story at hand, but it could also apply to the book overall ... But the title story—about a wealthy man who gives his wife pieces of his body over the course of their marriage—is indeed the standout and is practically dripping with black comedy and potential interpretations ... In Palma's tales, lecherous co-workers inevitably steal jilted wives waiting at the foot of a staircase with their suitcase, work crushes wind up the talismanic muses of magical figurines—all evoked with an onslaught of metaphor and simile that hits the nail so hard and so frequently that, in aggregate, they have some trouble signifying. Palma has a piercing imagination hampered only by plots that are borderline contrived and an unchanging narrative voice.