“These unbroken stretches of consciousness, days sometimes blurring into one another, seems just a feature of modern life, not worth complaining about,” an insomniac remarks to herself. Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is a collection of short stories that captures the modern sense of malaise that is now more pronounced, more intense, as a result of recent events. The stories themselves––twelve in total––are largely fantastical tellings, yet never do these fantasies rear themselves up for steady examination. Always they dwell in the background; they supplement fiercely human tales. In one story, a woman becomes transfixed with miniature time machines sold at a mall kiosk. In another, a tragedy leads to a group of children coming into possession of a haunted doll. Even with these blatant insertions of the impossible, the stories are true to life; the inner-life of the woman at the mall mirrors our own struggles with mortality (is instantaneous, retroactive oblivion really so bad?); the children’s grappling with a harmless haunting echoes the dissolution of later childhood (how can we be sure we have retained all the tools taught to us as we transition into adulthood?). In these ways, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century deals with hefty subjects through quick, hard-hitting stories. Kim Fu masterfully navigates modern day struggle, and packages elation and toil in equal abundance throughout her collection.
—Cooper, Annie Bloom’s Books, Portland, OR
It’s rare that I find a book of short stories that really works for me, but when an advance copy of this collection showed up with local author Kim Fu’s name on it, I had a good feeling. I was lucky enough to attend two different readings where Fu performed new work: first, at Hugo House, and again, here at Phinney Books. I was struck by her voice and imagination, both of which translate beautifully to the page. Each of the twelve stories is well-written, wonderfully surreal, and distinct. I felt particularly moved by the stories that explore the consequences of possible near-future technologies—”Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867,” “Time Cubes,” and “Twenty Hours” (think Black Mirror, but infused with more hope and curiosity than cynicism and dread)—and the ones that read like modern creature myths: “June Bugs” and “Bridezilla.” It’s hard to pick a favorite, and that makes it all the easier to recommend.
—Anika, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA
Fu’s debut collection is a stylish prose potpourri of fantasy, crime, and sci-fi. Reality shifts with every word to reveal the weird, the strange, and the wonderful. Technology is a double-edged sword, of course, but so is marriage, friendship, sleep, even food. An insomniac is seduced by the sandman. A sea monster looms as a conflicted bride plans her big day. Wings sprout on the legs of a young girl. A funeral crasher discovers a potential murder. Fans of Kelly Link, Karen Russell, and Neil Gaiman will find themselves right at home.
—Luciano, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA