The eleven stories in Kellie Wells's debut collection cover a
wide range of eccentric characters--from a young girl experiencing
her friend's strange demise to a set of opposite-sex conjoined
twins. Forced to deal with the debilitating confines of the
physical world--usually manifest in some kind of deformity or
affliction, from compression scars to mysterious blue skin--Wells's
characters struggle to transcend their existential disappointments
and find some way and someone to love.
In the title story, Ivy and her best friend Duncan struggle to
understand their mortality as Ivy learns of his potentially fatal
internal scarring caused by a moped accident. As Ivy says, "Things
can get so strange so fast," and they frequently do in Wells's
stories. But Ivy and Duncan help each other escape their
frightening, difficult world, if only momentarily, through
imagination, good humor, and closeness.
"Godlight" addresses most specifically the questions that are
evident in all the stories: Do you believe in God, and do you
believe in reincarnation? Jonas, the Hyatt Regency Hotel's live-in
light bulb replacement man, encounters two different characters--a
child who lives in the hotel and a woman who claims that her
identity has been altered for the Witness Protection Program--who
ponder these questions. Meanwhile, Jonas is left wondering what has
really become of his missing daughter, Emma.
The physical world is brought into question frequently in this
collection, and in "My Guardian, Claire," we see what can happen
when someone tries to transcend it--and succeeds. During a séance
to reach the narrator's late mother, Claire reaches the spirit
world and never truly returns. The narrator tries desperately to
retrieve Claire through a hilarious trip to the Exotic Animal
Compression Scars is an eloquent and original
collection that vibrantly captures the oddities of both the
everyday and the out-of-this-world.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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