The next two collections in our Short Story Month series remind us that “women are powerful and dangerous” (Lorde). Written about the everyday issues women face – from sexual identity to sexual assault, mental health to an imbalance in relationships – in a way that is anything but ordinary, Her Body Among Animals by Paola Ferrante, and Erase and Rewind by Meghan Bell, confront the complexities of womanhood with great power and profound clarity.
Ferrante’s is a “genre-bending collection merging horror, fairy tales, pop culture and sci-fi” while Bell’s “surreal stories captivate with their gritty and melancholic insight.”
Read these if you like sci-fi, a challenge, crave catharsis, or stories by women, about women.
Her Body Among Animals by Paola Ferrante
In this genre-bending debut collection merging horror, fairy tales, pop culture and sci-fi, women challenge the boundaries placed on their bodies while living in a world “among animals,” where violence is intertwined with bizarre ecological disruptions.
A sentient sex robot goes against her programming; a grad student living with depression is weighed down by an ever-present albatross; an unhappy wife turns into a spider; a boy with a dark secret is haunted by dolls; a couple bound for a colony on Mars take a road trip through Texas; a girl fights to save her sister from growing a mermaid tail like their absent mother.
Magical yet human, haunted and haunting, these stories act as a surreal documentation of the mistakes in systems of the past that remain very much in the present. Ferrante investigates toxic masculinity and the devastation it enacts upon women and our planet, delving into the universal undercurrent of ecological anxiety in the face of such toxicity, and the personal experience of being a new mother concerned about the future her child will face.Through these confrontations of the complexity of living in a woman’s body, Ferrante moves us from hopelessness to a future of resilience and possibility.
Her Body Among Animals will be released September 12, 2023! Head to our online bookstore to pre-order your copy!
Erase and Rewind by Meghan Bell
An assault survivor realizes she can rewind time and relives the experience in order to erase it. A teen athlete wonders why she isn’t more afraid of death when the plane carrying her team catches fire. The daughter of a superhero ruminates on how her father neglected his children to pursue his heroics. Two shut-in depressives form a bond on Twitter while a deadly virus wipes out most of the population of North America.
The stories in Erase and Rewind probe the complexities of living as a woman in a skewed society. Told from the perspective of various female protagonists, they pick at rape culture, sexism in the workplace, uneven romantic and platonic relationships, and the impact of trauma under late-stage capitalism. Quirky, intelligent and darkly comic, Meghan Bell’s debut collection is a highwire balance of levity and gravity, finding the extraordinary in common experiences.