Review: Debut story collection from Matthew Battles

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A town’s dogs take to living in the trees. Convention-goers become obsessed with, then addicted to, a mysterious black orb from the tradeshow floor. A man’s iPod earbuds drive him to catatonia. Another man befriends a unicorn.

These are just a few of the wild subjects in Matthew’s Battles’ marvelous debut story collection, The Sovereignties of Invention.

Battles’ prose is terse and his writing compact, with many of the 11 stories coming in at under 10 pages. It’s clear from Battles’ sharply focused use of language that he is as much a poet as a fiction writer.

A literary stylist, Battles is concerned with the intersection of art and technology, but not in a distant future, but what he calls “the uncanny now.” His stories demonstrate this with their elevation of the mundane and reversals of the sublime.

This is writing for the converted, for the lover of words who gasps with excitement at a surprising turn of phrase, which Battles delivers with dizzying frequency.

The Sovereignties of Invention by Matthew Battles is available in paperback where books are sold, priced at $14.95.

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