Tower Ltd. Surprise Packages is sending out parcels with very peculiar contents. Each story in this collection by British bizarro author Madeleine Swann is the tale of a different package. Despite different protagonists in each, it reads like a novel. Each package contains a lesson for the recipient, parables almost, on many of humankind’s weaknesses.
The book starts off strong: the hopeless, lonely Meera wants a man in her life, only to grow one through a seed packet sent by Tower. As is the case in many of the stories, Meera realizes her dreams do not equate with reality.
The third story (they lack titles, only numbers) is a perfect parable for all those desiring fame and is especially relevant in this time of social media fumbles. While in the eighth story, we meet a pretentious girl who never follows through with her extravagant plans, reminding me of myself. I sympathized with this character and the story granted me some insight into my own life. The sign of all good fiction.
The book is constructed with clear, beautiful prose, full of wonderful metaphor and simile. (I especially loved the description, “Shame bugs crawled up the inside of Terry’s skin.”) The characters are exaggerated, as is common in bizarro fiction, yet real and believable. I enjoyed Swann’s unique stylistic choices (little things like her method of capitalization). Overall, it was a hilarious and clever read.
I must admit a few of the stories were not as interesting to me as the others and I found myself reading through them just to get to the next story. Still, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a whimsical, well-constructed look at the discrepancy between desire and reality. It does contain some body horror and gore, but in such limited quantities, it should only bother those with the weakest stomachs.
You can find it: here