Review: Among Animals – The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction

Among Animals

Among Animals – The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction
By John Yunker (Editor)
(Ashland Creek Press, Paperback, 9781618220257, 232pp.)

The Short of It:

A deeply introspective look at the role of animals in society.

The Rest of It:

This is a powerful, and I’ll admit, at times, unsettling collection of short stories that center around animals and their place in society. I expected most of the stories to center around “man’s best friend” but the collection goes much deeper than that.

These stories include a man’s infatuation with a bird, a story told from a stray dog’s point of view, a woman impregnated (magically speaking) by a dolphin, a pregnant woman slowly becoming goat-like, and probably what was the most powerful story for me, one about an animal taken in as “meat” that suddenly becomes quite a bit more than that.

What I briefly mentioned above doesn’t even cover the half of it. My main reason for accepting this book for review, is that it also includes two favorites stories of mine, written by Midge Raymond (The Ecstatic Cry) and Jean Ryan (Greyhound). I was introduced to their writing through their story collections (Forgetting English and Survival Skills) some time ago and ever since, I’ve looked at short fiction in an entirely new light.

Short. Fiction. Can. Pull. You. In.

Yes. Yes, it can.

I know lots and lots of readers that shy away from short fiction. Trust me, I am a novel gal. I love to lose myself in a long novel but if you haven’t given short fiction a chance lately, you really should. Among Animals, in particular, really shook me up. I was all torn up over this one. It’s not a sad collection, but at the same time, it’s not a happy collection either. Each story seems to call the reader out, and then take you down a peg. It’s a little unnerving but at the same time, comforting. That’s a strange word to use for some of these stories but there was a solemnity to it all that made me revere the collection all the more.

As you can see below, the Otter Pup approved of it and how ironic that she’d find kinship with a book about animals.

Among Animals and Otter Pup

If you are looking to stretch yourself a little as a reader and have been trying to work some short fiction into your reading schedule, I cannot recommend this collection highly enough. It’s thought-provoking, somber but also totally in your face. I loved it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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18 thoughts on “Review: Among Animals – The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction”

  1. Thank you for this review, Ti. Your thoughts on this collection echo my own–“unnerving, comforting, thought-provoking, solemn.” I am grateful to be in the company of such fine writers.

    1. I have to say, all three of the collections I’ve read, this one, Forgetting English and yours… Survival Skills, all stayed with me. I can’t say that  with everything I read so I tip my hat to you!

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    1. It really is a wonderful collection of stories. I’ve kept all of my short story collections from this publisher. That’s saying a lot. 

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    1. It’s still percolating in me and I finished it earlier this week. I liked the diversity of animals covered too. There are birds, reptiles, bears, sea animals and the like. Not just cats and dogs. Actually, there wasn’t even one cat that I can recall. Oh, and there is even a story about an Emu which really shook me up. 

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    1. The cover isn’t all that inviting so maybe the cover turned you off a little but with three collections read by these folks, I probably won’t ever turn down an offer unless I am just completely swamped with personal stuff. 

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  2. I, for one, am of the Short Fiction lover variety. I love a good novel but there is something to be said for a well-written short story collection. Thanks for the recs (I want to pick up the other 2 you mentioned as well!)

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