Gr. 11^-12. Throughout this collection, which includes three sections from his novel The Hereafter Gang
(1991), Barrett extends the boundaries of sf, weaving it, sometimes only peripherally, into his lush southern landscapes. With consistent rhythms, intriguing plots, and macabre humor that, according to Terry Bisson's foreward, "out-o-connors" Flannery O'Connor, his book is a demonstration of fine writing. Descriptions are vivid, characters (including some actual figures from history) are multidimensional, and the settings seamlessly transport readers to a distinct place and time. Barrett's original, sometimes brilliant voice makes his book impossible to put into a traditional genre, style, or formula. His approach limits his marketability to YA readers. The protagonists' ages and personalities have YA appeal, but the mature content of some of the stories, sometimes including coarse language or pervasive references to adult themes (including pedophilia), makes this YA literature with a decidedly adult temperament. Roger LeslieCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
From Kirkus Reviews
Barrett's previous novels ran from weightless mysteries (Bad Eye Blues, 1997, etc.) to weighs-a-ton science fiction (Through Darkest America, 1987), so this 15-piece collection, a mad, grim, plausible, off-kilter, sometimes amusing brew, comes as a pleasant surprise. In the title piece, a struggling young playwright, swindled by her wicked uncle, befriends a stranded alien, to ultimately felicitous effect. Equally memorable are an unsettling slice-of-life on a remote colony planet, and a similarly disconcerting, hallucinatory world of endless stairways and rooms. Elsewhere, Barrett puts an agreeably flinty edge on a series of dark futures, where co mmunist Chinese have occupied the US, or whites have become a bankrupt, despised, exploited minority; or, after an effortless invasion by superior aliens, entrepreneurs trade art looted from a smashed civilization for basic subsistence; or still other alien invaders, having disappeared most of the human race, are haunted by the ghost of a man who isn't dead yet. The hilarious, well-known ``Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus'' offers a Mad Maxstyle future of robot hucksters, VR sex, gangster-actuaries, and seven-foot-tall, machine-guntoting, poker-playing possums. More sardonically, a half-milehigh statue of Richard Nixon rises on the California coast. In a historical-games vein: straitlaced Emily Dickinson's ghastly adventures in Indian territory; and Sheriff Pat Garrett meets Erwin Rommel and the Wright brothers. Less convincing are the saccharine account of a deformed child's transcendent destiny, Jesus as an elementary student, and a couple of all-but-unintelligible fragments. Here, events march to an outlandish but persuasive logic: peculiar, curious, engaging. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.