‘Collected Stories’ by Peter Carey is a set text for one of my literature classes, as it is a good example of Post-Modernism. As such, I was not very interested in reading it, but my other alternatives were Feminism and Constructions of Gender! The short stories are clearly critiquing society, and so are not particularly comfortable to read.
These collected stories are numerous in both theme and setting. Some, such as ‘Exotic Pleasures’ are set in our world, but in a future time. Others are in a complete fantasy world, such as ‘Do You Love Me?’. Possibly the most famous two short stories are ‘War Crimes’ and ‘The Fat Man in History’, so if you don’t read any other stories from this collection, read those.
Carey aims to shock and appall at all times. Why else would he have someone eat a dog turd, or consume the flesh of a fellow human? Other elements include vivid imagery, such as the snakes of ‘The Uses of Williamson Wood’, and interesting characterization ‘Life and Death in the South Side Pavillion’. He makes his reader think, and doesn’t encourage compassion for his characters.
Because I had to analyse these stories, and I’m not that fond of short stories to begin with, I could almost say I hated this book! Sure, the stories were interesting in an abstract way, but it certainly required a lot of thought. I like to have cohesion between short stories, some central theme, but there wasn’t anything. People who enjoy post-modernism and metafiction (exposing the constructs of fiction) will probably like this book, but it just wasn’t for me.