It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a collection of short stories as much as I did How They Were Found. Matt Bell is a wonderful writer: his stories are varied in topic and style, but he never fails to find the voice of each of his characters, making them real, even when the world they inhabit is very different from any we might recognise.
Take the opening story, The Cartographer’s Girl. Here we are introduced to the cartographer, who is drawing detailed and annotated maps of the city in an effort to find the love that he lost. His story is heartbreaking and beautifully told, each word chosen with care. It is followed by The Receiving Tower, a dystopian tale about hanging on to hope when there is no reason to. I found the plight of the men in this piece – and the way they face up to it – to be so devastatingly sad. I wanted to reach out to them, to offer them some morsel of hope, even though I know I would be lying to them. They stayed with me long after I finished the book.
This collection isn’t all doom and gloom, however. The Leftover is a humorous fable about accepting people for who they are and not trying to change them.
There isn’t one story in this collection I didn’t enjoy. To be honest, I am quite jealous of the author. I want to hate him, but his talent and skill are such that I’d like to be him when I grow up.
A wonderful anthology from a fabulous author.