Cosmo

Cosmo - Spencer Gordon This is a highly surreal, dark swirl of pop culture, emotions and modern society, sliding the scale from the deliciously, depressingly absurd - Leonard Cohen advertising Subway, a pornstar trying to perform when trapped inside a dinosaur suit - to the minute, sharply human moments that deliver a real punch to the chest - a mother waiting for her increasingly estranged son to sign onto instant messenger, a widower trying to smoke himself to death in his taped-up garage - and everything in-between. It'll be attention-grabbing stories like the one where Matthew McConaughy drives through the desert finding apparently dead clones of himself that get the most recognition, and rightly so, but Gordon also has an eye for the quieter, infinitely touching moments that take place out of the spotlight, like a sister trying to teach her younger brother to overcome fear, with dark, horrible results. Cosmo is both funny and desperately sad, a selection of surprising, thought-provoking and unusual stories that never stop pulling the rug from beneath your feet. Whether clambering inside the mind of a real-life shooter, writing a seemingly endless sentence about Miley Cyrus, or exploring the neuroses of a beauty queen, Gordon portrays frantic obsession, glorious despair and the barest tendrils of hope in beautiful prose, engrossing and fascinating, building fantastic structures of words only to topple them back down again. Possibly my favourite story in this collection, though, is Frankie+Hilary+Romeo+Abigail+Helen: An Intermission, a tangle of words and dates and events that should read like a Wikipedia article and instead takes you on a journey of tenuous links, missed opportunities and blind ambition that is utterly mesmerising. This whole book is mesmerising, actually; a series of transient, often heart-breaking moments that shouldn't link together but absolutely, gorgeously do.