Maybe Mermaids and Robots Are Lonely: 40 Stories and a Novella
Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely comprises 40 stories and a novella all set in or around Detroit and featuring figures that have become almost legendary in American culture. Stories in the collection range in form from a more traditional, if quirky, realism to a somewhat more ethereal or slipstream or magical realism. In the title story, for example, we meet a pair of star-crossed lovers, a robot and a mermaid, who must find a way to bridge their different worlds. "Rollo is Rollo" is a more realist play on the Cain and Abel, good brother-bad brother story. There's an Andre the Giant story and a Bigfoot story. A story about an aging flower child as she tries to fight off disease. A story about a young moonman who's crash landed on earth and seeks safety in the arms of a wolfgirl. Stories featuring popes and pirates and Elvis. And in the last story of the collection, a short novella, we see a family torn in the churn of aging industry in a failing city and in the city's rebirth as it struggles back from the zombie apocalypse.
While magic doesn't always exist in the worlds of these stories, the characters often perceive some magic in their worlds, just as we often see magic in ours. In particular, there's a special kind of magic threaded throughout the collection, a magic unique to life in the suburbs. In all their safety and sterility, the suburbs -- the not city and the not country, the middle-class households with two working parents -- there is some kind of magic that helps pass the afternoon time before everyone gets home from work. These stories attempt to render the world as we perceive it, which is somewhat different and more interesting (and perhaps more important to the times we live in) than traditional realism. In these stories, time collapses. Days turn on weather and modes of transportation. Water interrupts. Always, somewhere just out of reach, there's something we're supposed to want that seems better than what we have. And yet there's something just as (if not more) special here in the places we call home.