Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman

review  by Maryom

One day a man walks into a bank and holds up the staff and customers at gun point. He isn't interested in taking their money or jewellery but demands that they each hand over an item of sentimental value - "the most significant, memory-laden, gushingly sentimental object in your possession." The items offered are various - an old watch, an envelope, photographs...the narrator's wife Stacey hands over a calculator that she's used to make all the important decisions in her life.  With them he claims to be taking 51% of the victims souls - and if they don't grow them back, they will die.
Following the robbery strange things begin to happen to the victims -all related in some way to the items they handed over: a tattoo comes to life; a man is buried when his family home collapses; and the narrator's wife Stacey begins to shrink - at first it's hardly noticeable

I'm coming to Andrew Kaufman's work in reverse order - having started by reading his latest novel Born Weird. I'd read reviews and discussions about The Tiny Wife on the web with some readers adoring it while others found it too strange, and had it on my 'track down and read list' so was delighted to be offered a review copy. I'm definitely in the 'adored it' camp as it appealed to my love of the short, quirky and thought-provoking.

It's rather difficult to discuss the Tiny Wife without giving away too much. I think the best way to describe it is as a modern fable or even fairy tale. In fairy tales, it's a wicked witch or goblin that steals away souls and the victims must travel to the ends of the earth to regain them; here souls are stolen in a very modern way - a bank robbery - and the victims find the answers to their plight within themselves. It isn't a cosy, comforting story but rather dark in the way some older fairy tales can be; the sort that makes the reader question what they would do in such a situation; what's your most treasured possession? and what does that say about you? There are probably as many interpretations of this book as there are readers!

It's a short book - 88 pages - so quick to read but providing food for thought long after it's finished. As with the Tiny Wife herself, size isn't everything!

Maryom's review -  5 stars
Publisher - The Friday Project
Genre - Adult fiction, Folk tales

Buy The Tiny Wife from Amazon

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