I loved, loved, loved Chris Flynn’s last book, Mammoth – it was one of the best books I read in 2020, and one of the few things that made me laugh in that cluster-fuck of a year. So, when I saw he had a new book coming out, I sat up straight and said “yes, please!” in my polite voice. The wonderful team at UQP Books came through and sent me a copy of Here Be Leviathans for review.
Here Be Leviathans is a collection of nine short stories, narrated by animals, places, objects, and even the (very) odd human. A grizzly bear on the run, a plane seat in a terrifying crash, a genetically modified platypus with the power of speech – each and every one, bizarre and brilliant.
Flynn really pushes the boundaries of what we can expect from perspective. It takes a special, rare writing talent to pull it off. I mean, a hotel room that tells the story of a marriage plagued by fertility issues? Who even comes up with stuff like that, let alone manages to actually write it, let alone makes it one of the most beautiful and moving stories you’ll ever read?
Here Be Leviathans does warrant a heads-up, though. The story The Strait of Magellan, about a pandemic outbreak, might be TOO SOON and a bit triggering for some readers. It’s also kind of gross. And very creepy.
It’s impossible to pick a favourite story in Here Be Leviathans – they’ve all stuck in my brain, for one reason or another – so I’m going to cheat and say that my favourite part is the brilliant Afterword. (Or, to use the title Flynn gives it, AFTERWORD / ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS / BLAME APPORTIONED.) He offers insight into his inspiration and process for developing each story – it was a marvellous behind-the-scenes peek, and I wish more writers wrote them. Don’t skip it!