A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film. -Lorrie Moore
I discovered Andersen Prunty during the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 when he kindly offered a few of his titles for free to quarantined/housebound readers. I read Creep House and We Don’t Talk About Her, becoming an instant fan. Prunty has an extremely unique voice and writing style, unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
Deathtripping is another collection of short fiction like Creep House — all the stories are of various lengths and subjects but somehow (whether intentionally or unintentionally) feel like part of a connected universe.
If I were to describe my reading experience of these 35 stories, I would first tell you that I read one or two here and there every so often over the span of a few months. Ideally this is the best way to enjoy this specific collection. The stories need time to marinate and ample space between in order for the main idea to resonate. Bunched up too close together and it could feel like a mad descent into Wonderland — which could be great for you — the choice is yours depending on how you want to curate your experience. I binged the first 50 pages (seven stories) and got to “The Man With a Face Like a Bruise” and had to stop. This is how I knew I needed to pace myself. That story smacks you upside the face and doesn’t apologize for anything.
In this man, Maya’s nameless lover, Elijah had a very palpable target for his revenge. – “The Man With a Face Like a Bruise” Andersen Prunty
In “The Dust Season,” Prunty gives us a glimpse into a Dust Bowl-era freakshow. It’s short and terrifying, almost like the reader is being spared the rest of the story. For those who love werewolf tales, “Candy Heart” is a favorite story I enjoyed from Creep House and I was pleased to see it crossover to this collection. I totally read it again.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning “Bury the Children in the Yard,” the last story to worm its way into your brain and leave an unpleasant stain there. A professor risks everything to meet up with one of his students after she turns in an extremely suggestive essay. She agrees to spend her winter break at his isolated cabin by a lake. There is absolutely no way in hell you could guess how this one ends. It’s insanity and I will never, ever forget it. You’re welcome. I’m not sorry.
Your prize for making your way through Deathtripping is that you get to be a life-long Andersen Prunty fan which means you will never run out of weird, unexpected, freakishly inappropriate tales to entertain.