Thaisa Frank's Heidegger's Glasses was one of my favorite books of 2010 (review here), so I happily accepted Enchantment: New and Selected Stories for review, despite the fact that I usually avoid short story collections. If I had to compare the tone of Enchantment to something, I'd say it's similar to the HBO series Carnivàle (IMDb page): there's a strong sense of nostalgia, the wonderful and marvelous, dark humor, and just a hint of the supernatural.
The stories in Enchantment deal with themes like death, transformation, and trying to find meaning in life--which makes them sound a little stuffy, but they're really not pretentious at all (I am allergic to pretension, anyway). A few of my favorite stories were "The Cat Lover," "The Girl with Feet That Could See," about a circus that bloggers become obsessed with because it has actual magic; "Poland," and "The Dungeon Master's Mother," which is about a woman who turns herself into a dog after reading her son's D&D books. There are also some interconnected short stories in the second half of Enchantment that you could read as novellas.
My favorite, however, is the title story, which is about a woman who orders an enchanted prince from a catalog. His name is Lars, he's from England, and he comes with instructions like, "Mist me twice a day." I loved this story because it was fun, but at the same time you could read it in different ways. Since I watched Guilty Pleasures (post here) around the same time, I naturally thought of how Lars is like a hero in a romance novel, the kind of fantasy that can supposedly keep women from being good wives and mothers. And in fact the heroine of the story IS resisting marriage to her partner, a man who has completely given up on his ideals and now sells cell phones because it makes money. Not exactly Prince Charming material. Really, "Enchantment" is about the struggle between romanticism and enlightenment, idealism and practicality, and I love that it entertains while still making you think.
I really enjoy Thaisa Frank's writing and can't wait to read whatever she comes up with next! Thanks so much to Julia Drake PR for sending me a copy of Enchantment to review.
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