Reading Hannah Tinti’s short story collection: Animal Crackers set me on edge and, ocaasionally, made me avert my eyes from the page in revulsion. Mind you, not the bad kind of revulsion associated with disgust or gore, but the kind that hits home because it “nails it”. Just enough descritption, given so matter-of-factly, that you cannot help but think this is the way things really are. But I’m getting ahead of myself because, of course, if you haven’t read the book yet, you have no idea what I’m talking about.
These are stories that are difficult to categorize. There is the feel of noir mixed with a dash of horror and a sprinkle of mystery. One common theme ties all these stories together as the title suggests: animals, and there’s nothing cute about the presence of animals in these stories.
Eleven stories in total, there’s much ground covered here. The characters in each story are fully fleshed out. They demand the reader’s sympathy. Tinti accomplishes this with eloquence in a few sentences. Even the side characters in each story do not escape her masterful technique. Nor do the animals, from the protesting giraffes to the tortured rabbit, or from the loved rooster to the stalking bear… whether lovable or scary, you will feel a stirred emotion.
There is complex character development and relationship juxtapositions that breath life into each story. Tinti is clearly a keen observer and chronicler of human behavior. All this in the span of a short story.
Tinti’s writing is a breath of fresh air. The sentences are crisp and economical. She interweaves events back and forth to effect tension and arouse curiosity. The details in her stories allow the descriptions to jump out of the page.
Tinti has a remarkable talent: she states a disturbing action or thought by a character and the reader accepts it, because she has fully developed the premise for it. I had never felt this anxious over myself for understanding these characters’ disturbing actions or thoughts. Uncanny.
This is a highly recommended read if you enjoy the mysterious or the scary. But also, if you would like to be introduced to an exceptionally well written collection of short stories.