“Tales From Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009)

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Artist and writer Shaun Tan returns with another spectacular piece of artwork. Unlike bestselling The Arrival, Tales From Outer Suburbia features both entertaining and moving short stories and flash fiction, combining with beautiful original artwork, making the reader savor each word choice and brush stroke on the page.

Like The Arrival, this is also a commentary on our current western civilized society of suburbia and what it really means to be ordinary and bland, with everything perfect and the same.  Tan looks to shake up this foundation with bizarre stories that have deeper meanings that go beyond a simple tale.  There is the story of Eric, the foreign exchange student, who looks and acts very different and is just strange, but upon going back to his home, leaves an indelible gift.  The story of the sea cow, or dugong, that miraculously appears on the lawn of a family going through personal troubles, giving the child something new and different in his life.  In “Grandpa’s Story,” grandpa tells the tale of the special journey he and his newlywed wife had to go through that was dangerous and life-threatening, but ultimately brought them closer together.

Tales From Outer Suburbia is a collection of unique stories that will have you grabbing it off the shelf at least once a month, perhaps to escape from the ordinariness of your life, or to just be entertained by the bizarre.  Ultimately, you will be comforted by these stories, as each of them serves as a cathartic tonic.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 27th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

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