Fruiting Bodies: Book summary and reviews of Fruiting Bodies by Kathryn Harlan

Fruiting Bodies

Stories

by Kathryn Harlan

Fruiting Bodies by Kathryn Harlan X
Fruiting Bodies by Kathryn Harlan
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Book Summary

This genre-bending debut collection of stories constructs eight eerie worlds full of desire, wisdom, and magic blooming amidst decay.

In stories that beckon and haunt, Fruiting Bodies ranges confidently from the fantastical to the gothic to the uncanny as it follows characters―mostly queer, mostly women―on the precipice of change. Echoes of timeless myth and folklore reverberate through urgent narratives of discovery, appetite, and coming-of-age in a time of crisis.

In "The Changeling," two young cousins wait in dread for a new family member to arrive, convinced that he may be a dangerous supernatural creature. In "Endangered Animals," Jane prepares to say goodbye to her almost-love while they road-trip across a country irrevocably altered by climate change. In "Take Only What Belongs to You," a queer woman struggles with the personal history of an author she idolized, while in "Fiddler, Fool, Pair," an anthropologist is drawn into a magical―and dangerous―gamble. In the title story, partners Agnes and Geb feast peacefully on the mushrooms that sprout from Agnes's body―until an unwanted male guest disturbs their cloistered home.

Audacious, striking, and wholly original, Fruiting Bodies offers stories about knowledge in a world on the verge of collapse, knowledge that alternately empowers or devastates. Pulling beautifully, brazenly, from a variety of literary traditions, Kathryn Harlan firmly establishes herself as a thrilling new voice in fiction.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In Harlan's enticing debut collection, primarily queer, female characters encounter surreal and fantastical situations...This is well worth diving into." - Publishers Weekly

"Original, deftly told stories that chart coming-of-age in perilous times for our planet." - Kirkus Reviews

"A debut of astonishing range and beauty, nimble and magical and profound. In stunning prose, Kathryn Harlan's wildly imaginative and daring stories reveal the anguish of growing up in a dying world. Her characters' quest for knowledge―about themselves, their families, their bodies, and their yearnings―will thrill and haunt you." - Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers

"These excellent stories are insightful, transporting, and gloriously uncanny. In story after story, Fruiting Bodies uncovers knowledge that is tantalizing and terrible." - Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of The Five Wounds

"Fruiting Bodies is abundant with dark and tender wonders. In the spirit of Shirley Jackson, Kathryn Harlan coaxes their characters' secret feelings into the open, where they bloom into compelling dramas. A book as loving as it is eerie, full of queer love and queer longing, I so enjoyed my stay in the deep woods of Harlan's imagination." - CJ Hauser, author of Family of Origin

"Allow me to tell the unvarnished truth: Fruiting Bodies is going to knock your socks off. Put on your socks right now and get prepared. Kathryn Harlan's writing is just what you're looking for, but something you've never seen before." - Judith Claire Mitchell, author of A Reunion of Ghosts

"Oh my gosh Kathryn Harlan's stories are so good―they're feral and formal and funny and exactly what you want when you turn to a person you love and say 'tell me a story.'" - Amber Sparks, author of And I Do Not Forgive You

"This is an extraordinary, gorgeous, wildly imaginative collection of stories. I know I will be returning to them again and again." - Beth (Bich Minh) Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha's Dinner

This information about Fruiting Bodies was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Ashleigh P

Each under the skin
Each story was like a tiny sip of of ice cold water on a scorching hot day - but just a sip. Enough to refresh you but leave you wanting more. Kathryn Harlan has managed to sew together a collection of unique short stories all with a common thread - the author seems to be inside of each of the main characters enough to know them at an almost shocking/embarrassing level. They have managed to unveil the most human - and often times ugliest - pieces of human flaws, psyche, and rawness. At times, the subtleness of the humanity displayed is ironically profound. What you are left with is a set of stories leaving you feeling vulnerable not only for yourself but for the characters within.

Carole P. (Natick, MA)

Fruiting Bodies
These stories make me think of floating in the ocean. All is calm then suddenly a wave breaks over you. Each story had a moment that made me say "wait a minute" and then start the story again. Fruiting Bodies was lovely , with a breaking wave at some point. I guess you could add well- written with intriguing stories. This book is just in time for summer. Not too dense, but some meat to it. I would just say, what a treat. Thank you BookBrowse and thank you Kathryn Harlan. Please write a novel next.

Stephanie K. (Glendale, AZ)

Fruitful and Lush
I'd definitely recommend this book to read and discuss, particularly for any book club interested in diversity and inclusivity. Fruiting Bodies is a unique and stunning collection of stories so cohesive it reads like a novel. Though each chapter tells an entirely different coming-of-age tale, the reader is left wanting more of the individual stories and their vivid characters. I hated to have the book end, and I haven't felt that way in a long time! I've read lots of short story anthologies, and it's rare as a reader to enjoy all of them so thoroughly.

WDH - Kentucky

Interesting and Unique
Well written, thought provoking stories that are very unique in style. The stories are easy to visualize while reading. Enjoyed reading and would recommend to friends.

Gary R. (Bolingbrook, IL)

Stories to tell
I don't know if it's just me but the older I get the more I cherish short story collections. I can pick it up when I have some time and read a story in a short amount of time. The author of Fruiting Bodies has provided a great collection of stories to read, to think about, to ponder their meanings from the fantastic to the sublime! Here's an author to watch. Recommended!

Mary S. (Bow, NH)

A great debut
What an interesting collection of short stories - somewhat disparate yet somehow come together in unity. Some of the stories are fantastical and dreamlike (looking at you Fiddler, Fool, Pair), while others are down to earth. I am not a huge fantasy/speculative fiction fan and so have little compare this to which is why I went with a good rating rather than very good. I think if that those genres appeal to you then this book is for you. However, anyone who picks this up will not be disappointed.

...7 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Kathryn Harlan

Kathryn Harlan received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she now teaches writing. She was the recipient of the 2019 August Derleth Graduate Creative Writing Prize. Her work has appeared in the Gettysburg ReviewStrange Horizons, and elsewhere.

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