What beautiful, strange, funny stories you’ll be pleased to find in Thomas Pierce’s superb debut collection, Hall of Small Mammals (Riverhead 2015). Throughout, Pierce flirts with high-concept narratives—what if a TV star hid the genetic copy of an extinct miniature woolly mammoth in his mother’s home? What if a man discovers that his girlfriend is happily married to a man in her dreams?—but the outlandishness of the conceits never overtakes the stories’ genuine interest in human questions of faith and family. Pierce has described Hall of Small Mammals as “a book of stories about people trying to make sense of an unusual situation—that situation being life itself” and the improbability of the stories (though finally how improbable?) seems perfectly to underscore the characters’ fumbling, humbling attempts at that understanding.
Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce. Published by Riverhead (2015). 304 pages.