Friday, 4 April 2014

Incendiary Girls by Kodi Scheer

Incendiary Girls explores our baser instincts with vivid imagination and humor. In these stories, our bodies become strange and unfamiliar terrain, a medium for transformation. In “Fundamental Laws of Nature,” a doctor considers her legacy, both good and bad, when she discovers that her mother has been reincarnated as a thoroughbred mare. In the title story, a mischievous angel chronicles the remarkable life of a girl just beyond death’s reach. In Scheer’s hands, empathy and attachment are illuminated by the absurdity of life. When our bodies betray us, when we begin to feel our minds slip, how much can we embrace without going insane? How much can we detach ourselves before losing our humanity? Scheer’s stories grapple with these questions in each throbbing, choking, heartbreaking moment.
Goodreads description

Kodi Scheer combines her medical training and understanding with magic realism to form an original collection of short stories. 

In Fundamental Laws of Nature a woman doctor and cancer sufferer believes her daughter's horse is the reincarnation of her mother. 

Transplant - a story about a woman with a transplanted heart who becomes a convert to Islam; this is about a woman searching for hope.

Miss Universe - the contestants turn violently on Miss Afghanistan. 

Gross Anatomy - a medical student is visited by the cadaver she is dissecting.

When a Camel Breaks Your Heart opens with the line: Your lover hasn't always been a camel. Yesterday Mahir was human. But this isn't a simple surreal story, it is a sad painful portrait of a cross-cultural relationship.

No Monsters Here - a wife and mother with OCD starts finding body parts hidden in her home. These belong to her doctor husband who is on duty in Iraq.

Salt of the Earth - an account of an outbreak of a love virus in a small town. 

Modern Medicine - a nurse in a burns unit tries to cope with the trauma of her work by abusing drugs.

Primal Son - how do a couple cope when their much wanted baby is born an ape?

Ex-Utero - a medical student's experience on the ward.

Incendiary Girls - an account by an angel of death of a young woman's experience of the Armenian Genocide.  A shocking account of a terrible and forgotten event in twentieth century history. 

The author's medical insight is important to these short stories, not just in terms of her choice of subject matter but also in how she sees and portrays the world. In addition, in Transplant, Miss Universe, When a Camel Breaks Your Heart, No Monsters Here and Incendiary Girls there is a focus on war, genocide and intercultural relations. 

A fascinating collection.

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for a fair review.

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