By Heidi Simmons
Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory
by Raphael Bob-Waksberg – Stories
Ah, the joy of short stories! One never knows what one will find in a story collection written by a single author. This month, the collections I reviewed contained stories that were intense and deadly serious, while others were culturally diverse and innocently charming. In Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Alfred Knopf, 249 pages) a magical and surreal collection is just as sincere and impactful.
Author Bob-Waksberg is the creator of the Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman – a clever show about a former television celebrity who is half horse and man, and his group of friends who are either all human or animal-human combos, dealing with the bizarre world of Hollywood.
This collection has 18 stories. Some are as short as two pages while there are others that are more than twenty. Bob-Waksberg often uses lists and bullet points to make his points, and includes different font sizes, all caps and bold paragraphs to draw attention to a strange world or different tale the reader is about to experience.
In the Story “Salted Circus Cashews, Swear to God” the font is oversized and bold in the beginning. But as the tale unfolds, the font gets smaller and smaller reflecting the narrator’s increasing insecurity and disappointment in the man she met online.
“We Men of Science” is about a university professor who along with his mentor generate an Anti-Door where the protagonist steps across the threshold into an alternative reality that he begins to prefer. The story has simple line drawings to illustrate the professor’s journey.
“Rufus” is the story about a dog trying to understand his master, or as the dog tells us, his “ManMonster.”
“The Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion,” is about a man and woman who decide to get married and are inundated by all the crazy wedding suggestion from friends and family that include hyper-eccentric and bizarre rituals that nearly destroy the couple.
The story “Move Across Country” is about a person who wants to begin again but cannot escape the “sadness” – an entity that seems to be following her.
“You Want to Know What Plays Are Like?” finds siblings in a small theater watching a play about their lives and the family tragedy.
In “Lives with the Person Who Dumped You,” the author outlines five different types of lunches that sum up failed relationships and the reason you agreed to meet.
“These Are Facts” tells the story of half-siblings on vacation getting to know one another and recognizing the strange reality they each share.
I had many favorites in this collection and enjoyed the journey into worlds where everything is not as it seems. Yet, in so many of the stories we also get the emotional depth and intimate detail that humans find confusing and challenging to navigate. Bob-Waksberg writes with good humor and an awareness that works on many levels.
It is a wonderful experience to spend time with such creativity, thoughtfulness – and meaning, which is something short stories can do extremely well. Once in a while, it is refreshing to view reality and the human condition through whimsy and magical thinking.