Lungs Full of Noise by Tessa Mellas

Title: Lungs Full of Noise
Author: Tessa Mellas
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Expected Release: October 1, 2013
Source: publisher (NetGalley)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

This prize-winning debut of twelve stories explores a femininity that is magical, raw, and grotesque. Aghast at the failings of their bodies, this cast of misfit women and girls sets out to remedy the misdirection of their lives in bold and reckless ways.

Figure skaters screw skate blades into the bones of their feet to master elusive jumps. A divorcee steals the severed arm of her ex to reclaim the fragments of a dissolved marriage. Following the advice of a fashion magazine, teenaged girls binge on grapes to dye their skin purple and attract prom dates. And a college freshman wages war on her roommate from Jupiter, who has inadvertently seduced all the boys in their dorm with her exotic hermaphroditic anatomy.

But it isn’t just the characters who are in crisis. In Lungs Full of Noise, personal disasters mirror the dissolution of the natural world. Written in lyrical prose with imagination and humor, Tessa Mellas’s collection is an aviary of feathered stories that are rich, emotive, and imbued with the strength to suspend strange new worlds on delicate wings.

Lungs Full of Noise begins with “Mariposa Girls,” a short story about figure skaters who go to lengths more and more bizarre in order to be the absolute best. I was instantly reminded of the quirky, outlandish fables in Aimee Bender’s The Color Master, so my first reaction was one of pure glee. That feeling never waned.

Although I was reminded of the thrill I get from reading Aimee Bender, Tessa Mellas has a unique and distinct voice that is her own. The twelve stories in this collection are diverse, incredibly creative and most peculiar, sometimes even Kafkaesque. “opal one, opal two” was unlike anything I’ve ever read. “Bibi from Jupiter” was probably my favorite, about a college student whose roommate is an alien. From Jupiter. The planet, not Florida. “You’d think she at least would have tried to fit in. I think she liked being different” may have been prompted by a green alien, but it reminds readers of attitudes that are all too familiar.

Tessa Mellas won the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award with Lungs Full of Noise; she’s certainly one to keep an eye on. I was completely enthralled by these stories, and can’t wait to read more from her!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

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