A dazzling, postmodern debut collection of pulp and surreal fictions: a writer of alternate histories defends his patron's zeppelin against assassins and pirates; a woman transforms into hundreds of gumballs; an emancipated children's collective goes house hunting.
The next morning, nursing a cognac hangover and a throat raw from cigarillo smoke, Stan stood bewildered in front of a two-story building in downtown Palo Alto. It looked a lot like where he worked. There on the signboard were the other companies in his building: Leng Hong Trading; Trusty & Spark, patent attorneys; the Bagel Binge, marketing department; MicroChip Times, editorial. But no gumballs.com, Inc.
"I thought you might be here, sir," said Pringles, his secretary, appearing at his elbow.
"Huh? Pringles!" said Stan. The day before, Pringles had been dressed in a black T-shirt reading "Your Television Is Already Dead" and twelve earrings, but now she was in a smart ochre business suit, carried a mahogany-colored briefcase, and wore pearls.
"We've moved, sir," she said, leading the way to the limousine.
On the highway to Santa Clara, something occurred to Stan. "Pringles?" he said.
Wonderful, wondrous stories. Rosenbaum has a knack for capturing gentle, pensive moods, even in the midst of violence, and you find yourself wrapped up in these little vignettes: rooting for the protagonist, disbelief suspended. "The Valley of Giants" in particular is a perfect example of his storytelling style. Don't want to give it away, but the reason why no one ever leaves the Valley of Giants is both heart-breaking and haunting. Don't skip this one!
Yep, I agree with almost everything the other review states about this, except I really enjoyed it. Let your imagination relax, that is what the author did, and enjoy a love/adventure/political/comedic story and while there may not be a Pulitzer involved it is not a waste of time either.
Surreal, yes - too surreal for me. The Ant King is only one of several stories, but I stopped reading a few stories later.
The plot: The 'heros' girlfriend is captured by the 'Ant King' and replaced by gum-balls. After visiting a self-help group, the hero starts marketing the (addicting) gumballs very successfully. When his company becomes a big corporation he decides to follow a voice that told him to rescue his girlfriend from the ant king. He buys a magic sword from ebay, plays a video game in which the ant king is the villain to beat (but he always dies at the death bridge) and sets out to rescue her with the help of Vampire, a computer geek.
The ant king has antlers, eats tacos and can speak - it is generally left open if he is (remotely?) human.
For me, everything is just too unreal for the story to figure - there is not enough what seems real for it to go anywhere and matter.