Once upon a time I loved short stories. Gradually I began to see how constraining they could be, and my love lessened. The more I fell in love with novels, particularly epic novels, the more I felt the short story was choking me, hoping to drain me of life and passion. I still read the occasional collection of short stories, and I write short pieces once in a long while out of necessity, but I haven't loved short fiction for many years.
Domesticated Wild Things may be the book that changes this for me. Time will tell if it completely shifts me from my bitterness for the form, but I really enjoyed these stories. Who'd have thought such a small volume by a relatively unknown author published by a university press would move me so? In these stories, Aliu has created a bleak world that is foreign to me, yet evident in my everyday life. These are flawed characters in a world desperate to crush them, yet I felt there was always a glimmer of hope. That's what I love about these stories. There's a poetic quality told in simple prose that forces me to see the world in a different light. These aren't feel good stories, yet I felt good reading them. Characters I might have hated under another author's control were made beautiful in Aliu's hands. These are the stories I will recall when I'm in a dark and dirty diner, when I'm in a mildew-infested locker room, when I'm at the auto shop, hoping the mechanic has good news, knowing that he doesn't.
A new-old world may have been opened to me. I find myself once again interested in short stories; my mind is flooded with writing ideas; my bookshelf grows with volumes celebrating the form. Domesticated Wild Things is a book I'd recommend for those who love short stories, or anyone who might have at one time.