It’s an impressive feat. As a student of ethnography in “A Conversation About Bread” muses, “Didn’t every story provide a narrow representation at best and fetishise somebody at worst?” Thompson-Spires’s characters demand to be seen, and — even more electrifyingly — return the reader’s gaze, challenging our prejudices and assumptions. . . This is just a taste of how caustic Thompson-Spires can be. She writes satire of the Paul Beatty school, her humour as daring as it is disarming. This is a firecracker of a book, sizzling with politics, but it’s also a triumph of storytelling: intelligent, acerbic and ingenious.
Some stories turn towards the macabre, such as a young woman’s fetishisation of an amputee. “Suicide, Watch” features a woman who is obsessive about updating her status on social networks. These coolly ironic and grimly funny tales brim with snap and verve, and this is a debut collection of daring and aplomb.
Her electric style is extrovert, erudite and hugely entertaining, despite the often grim subject matter... Occasionally you feel the fizzing, self-interpreting voice is doing some heavy lifting in distracting us from how tightly these stories are fitted around punchlines or the revelation of a character’s repressed past... But more often, Thompson-Spires invigoratingly hits the mark... While the book’s targets can sometimes be obvious, as with This Todd, narrated by a domineering sculptor who disguises her fetish for amputees as an expression of empathy, the best tales here unspool outlandish scenarios pitched between comedy and tragedy. Even if not everything here works, you end the collection greedy to read whatever is coming next from this unmistakable talent.