Michael Faber is new to me but he's not a new writer: He's written four novels, and Vanilla Bright Like Eminem is his second collection of short stories. If this book is a reflection on his earlier work, then I have some catching up to do.
Faber knows how to tell strange, original tales, all of which are page-turners. In "The Safehouse," a homeless man comes across a shelter where residents are required to wear T-shirts listing their psychiatric histories. In "The Smallness of the Action," a disturbed and depressed young mother keeps dropping and hurting her newborn.
In "In the Eyes of the Soul," we find a single mom unable to move out of her violent, graffiti-laden neighborhood. She decides to purchase a virtual picture of a living garden to replace her view.In "Someone to Kiss It Better," a hot-tempered husband accidentally kills his wife and then decides to try to cover it up. This decision leads to more killing and a comedy of even more mistakes. In the title story, a father of two, on vacation with his family, experiences the happiest moment of his life -- a very moving tale that doesn't slip into sentimentality.
There are 16 stories in Vanilla Bright Like Eminem: Some of the stories are grim, some are light but all are conveyed by a writer who knows his craft extremely well. Many are comparing Faber to the late, great Raymond Carver. While Carver is hard to beat when it comes to storytelling, I have a feeling if he were alive today Faber's excellent collection would be on his bookshelf.