What to say about these stories! First of all, this collection is perhaps one of the most exciting that I’ve ever read. Each left me with a visceral reaction, not just an intellectual reaction of “well written” but a gut reaction of “wow”. While the collection is classified as fiction, the stories read as vignettes from real life, moving through history, capturing highlights of human moments on earth.
Mason moves from the life of a 19th century boxer to ancient Egypt, to the jungles of Brazil to France in the time of ballooning in the early 19th century. There is a story set in the South Pacific during the pursuit of the “reality” of evolution using a non-fictional person as lead; another where a man, a doctor, feels his life being subsumed by another (? better) man. There are magical moments, hints of (or more obvious) madness, stark reality, or perhaps alternative reality. So much to read and feel. I am writing this just after finishing the book, with the impact still resonating.
I also recommend reading the author’s afterword. It explains some things about his background that I did not know, which, I believe, are likely powerful influences on his work. It and the acknowledgments also explain the reality behind the titular final story.
Very highly recommended.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.