The Cambridge Geek

Pages from the Pizza Crows - Evan Witmer

Dipping back into a bit of reading, as I suddenly find myself not doing hours of commuting (hey ho Corona), so seemed like a good opportunity to crack open a book. I thought it was a good idea to ease myself back into it though, so decided to start with this collction of short stories.

The collection is built into a framing story, the narrative of the Pizza Crow of the title. Our narrator has been visited by a crow, who provides small gifts (coins, nails) in response to being left food. Nothing terribly exciting, until one day he leaves out pizza. And the crow comes back with a page from a short story. Several different types of pizza later, a collection is born.

The stories range through a variety of surreal scenarios, some horrific, some fantastic, all weird in some way. The first, Bedfellows, is probably my favourite, as it has an impressive extrapolation of the "what if?" at the heart of the story. That "what if", is a couple who always teleport into bed with each other whenever they fall asleep at the same time.

Then there's "Belligamy", about a battle royale, and "Captured by Animals", an unexpectedly sweet story about a bear human-watching in the woods. Finally "The Red Constellation" is rather more grim, about a woman whose bloodline was cursed by ancient gods to always make her the target of attacks.

It's a good selection of different ideas, with a lot of interesting premises. Downside though, is that it feels like the book could have done with a final edit. There's not a small number of typos, and some of the language is more than a bit clunky. One story in particular, "Young Adult Series Simulator", I couldn't decide if was meant to be a parody or just badly written.

Still, a nice spread of unusual concepts.

Score 3

Tagged: Book Magical Realism Varied Anthology Print