Reading is important. It makes you less dumb, it improves your memory and it makes you less dumb. We want to encourage reading so we’ll be posting book reviews here from time to time. Check them out and read, or be stupid.
Tomorrowland by Joseph Bates
Review by Clayton Smith
Some books are good. Some books are great. And some books are so outstanding that they immediately become your go-to Christmas/birthday/anniversary/Festivus/May Day gift for every single book lover in your life.
Tomorrowland is that kind of book.
Reading Joseph Bates’ collection of short stories is sort of what I imagine it’s like to be a Kardashian on Christmas; you get a ton of presents, and each one of them is different, magnificent, and presented to you by a person of the male persuasion.
There are ten short stories in Tomorrowland, and each one of them presents its own unique reading experience. If there is a running theme among the stories, it is that the future isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Bates examines some very common ideas through excitingly uncommon lenses. There’s a story about a device that hooks up to your TV and lets you view an infinite number of multiverses. There’s a transcript of an interview with a man who has a flaming ball of gas for a head. There’s a compilation of survey results returned to a man from all of his exes, presented without comment. There’s a tale of time travel that utilizes the page design itself to weave a sense of reality into the story.
Rarely have I read a collection of stories that are all, everyone one of them, just so, so good.
Bates’ stories are clever, wry, entertaining, and occasionally hard on the heartstrings. They are written with the concise, self-aware prose of a well-practiced storyteller, which makes sense, since Bates teaches creative writing at University of Miami-Ohio. Tomorrowland is so good that I want to read everything Bates has written, and then I want to read everything written by anyone he’s ever taught.