Man V. Nature by Diane Cook

 

I’ve been sitting on this review until the very last moment because I haven’t known where to begin. My head is spinning. Every time I think I know what I want to say about this collection of short stories, I come up with a ton of other ideas, too much to include in one review.

Each story in Man vs. Nature centers around a personification of “nature,” which manifests itself as an aspect of the natural world, an aspect of human nature, or often, a blend of the two. Our hopes and fears, our virtues and failings, our natural lives and deaths, the balance we strive for, the societies we’ve created: All of these things are confronted, pled with, fought, accepted. It gets intense. It will take your breath away.

“Somebody’s Baby” had the greatest impact on me, thanks to moments like these:

“She felt shot at every day of her life since she’d begun having children.”

“Motherhood was naturally replete with loss.”

“If you could suddenly get back everything you’d already said good-bye to, would you want it?”

There are so many ways to interpret the stories in this book because there are so many different things to see, and they come at you quickly, little wisps of understanding. Sometimes a new insight would jump out at me and, to be honest, it barely seemed to relate to the actual words I was reading. And sometimes a meaning felt juuuust out of reach, as if I needed to pause, sit with the words for a while, maybe read the story again at a later date in order to grasp yet another layer or angle.

I’m thankful I had Kelly from The Well-Read Redhead (whose review I’m going to read as soon as I click “Publish”) because Man V. Nature is an astonishing collection that demands discussion. Grab some fellow bookworms who enjoy short stories, who enjoy a surreal read that is also grounded in reality, and who don’t mind getting a little creeped out and uncomfortable … because you are going to want to talk and talk about these stories.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for supplying me with a review copy of Man V. Nature and including me on the book’s tour. Be sure to check out the complete tour schedule and read the reviews posted on other stops for other perspectives!