Minor Sketches & Reveries by Alberto Balengo (All Formats Bundle)
These introspective tales (described by one critic as "the perfect panacea for minds stressed by life's challenges") feature animals, allegories and melodramas of everyday life. At the center of the stories are tiny creatures (a sparrow, earthworm or paperclip) struggling to make sense of larger mysterious forces. Human protagonists are equally perplexed by ordinary events - like searching for a lost key, watching late night TV, or eating a taco.
As the author admits in the afterward, these pieces feel more like "sketches" than stories with conventional plot and character. Many end at odd places or don't end at all. Scattered through the stories are moments of isolation, confusion and foreboding. Some pieces (like the essayistic "Indolence: Notebooks") investigate a philosophical idea to such absurd lengths that one is almost tempted to take a nap.
In one of the lighter pieces ("3 Fake Recommendation Letters,") Balengo submits fake recommendation letters (by Rabelais, Kafka and Hans Christian Anderson) to an MFA program. In a more somber story ("The Deletionist") a disgruntled system administrator tries to delete as much of his digital footprint as he can - with mixed results.
Written in plain, careful language, this debut collection by Alberto Balengo depicts people (and creatures) trying valiantly to investigate a world that seems neither rational nor reassuring.