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Publisher's Summary

Witty and surreal tales that transcend rationality and illuminate our world, from America’s most original writer.

Welcome to the world of Droll Tales, in which reality is a mutually agreed-upon illusion and life is painful, paradoxical, beautiful, and brief. With an oddball cast of characters who reappear in various guises throughout these interrelated stories, Smyles reveals an off-kilter world overlapping this one. And in giving us a tour of this enchanted, sometimes absurd place, with its own workings and ways of expression, she gives us a new way to understand our own.

A young suburban woman runs away to Europe to become a living statue; Mallarmé is at long last translated into pig Latin; a house full of surrealists compete for love on a reality TV show; a list of fortune-cookie messages reveals the inner world of the young man employed to write them; and a story of love and betrayal is told through the sentence diagrams on a fifth grader’s grammar test.

Romantic, dark, and ironic, Droll Tales is a book like none you have experienced. It is a joyful interrogation of the paradoxes underpinning life, a cabinet of curiosities, a philosophical vaudeville, a puzzle in 14 pieces, and a tragicomic riddle articulated in Smyles’ singular style, with the mystery of the human heart at its center.

©2022 Iris Smyles (P)2022 Blackstone Publishing

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