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The Universe in Miniature in Miniature
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After the restraint of his well-received first novel, The Cradle (2009), Somerville returns to the short story and unleashes the full force of his mischievous imagination. In this inventive and robust collection loosely anchored to the Midwest town of Grayson, and the mysterious School of Surreal Thought and Design, straight-ahead stories that take new slants on familiar themes--family dysfunction, a high-school student's crush on a teacher--are yoked to bold tales that deliver psychological realism to the outskirts of speculative and science fiction. There's a hilarious vignette about a catastrophically inept spaceship admiral and a terrifying story about how people behave when the earth stops spinning. The spooky title story portrays a trio of rogue students embroiled in disturbing projects, while "The Machine of Understanding Other People" is a comic yet wrenching adventure story about a strange inheritance and a dangerous dream of preventing "the destruction of the world." Attuned to the apocalyptic, Somerville, like Jim Shepard and Joe Meno, creates ensnaring plots involving characters in stories of melancholy and absurdity, failure and out-of-the-box heroics. - Booklist The Universe in Miniature in Miniature is that rare thing, a formally inventive and profound book of ideas that also manages to stir the emotions. -KGB Book Review Somerville has vast talent for invention and a flair for writing in a variety of voices, whether his character is a young female, a middle-aged male, or an alien. -The Boston Globe

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