Whether she takes on evolution and modern manhood, international adoption, real estate, the movie industry, science and faith, art, or terrorism, Gartner fillets the righteous and the ridiculous with dexterity in equal, heartbreaking, and glorious measure.
Angels crash land, lovers speak IKEA, a mountain swallows tony West Coast properties, and a killer stalks the great motivational speakers of North America.
These stories ruthlessly expose our covert fears and fathomless desires and allow us to snort with laughter—while grieving at the grotesque world we’d live in if we all got what we wanted.
About the author
Zsuzsi Gartner is the author of the critically acclaimed story collection All The Anxious Girls on Earth. A former senior editor at Saturday Night magazine, she is currently creative director of Vancouver Review's Blueprint B.C. Fiction series. She is the winner of a 2007 National Magazine Award for Fiction and the recipient of numerous awards for her magazine journalism. Her stories have been produced on radio in Canada and the U.S. Gartner has lived in Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa and now lives in Vancouver, a utopian dystopia.
"Up in Canada there lives a brilliant, unusually nimble writer who deserves an ample U.S. audience. Her name is Zsuzsi (pronounced Zhu-zhee) Gartner, and not only would it be great if she could fully break through the U.S.–Canadian fiction border, but it would also be great if she broke though the unstated barrier that exists between ‘experimental’ fiction (her side) and the calmer, more linear, narrative-type of fiction that many readers are initially more comfortable giving a whirl. There are Customs officials stationed at both the geographical and the artistic posts, and in the latter case, they inquire of all writers trying to pass through, ‘Why should you be read?’ That's an easy one to answer here. There are countless rewards to be found when reading the dexterous, sardonic stories in Gartner's collection, including the presence of suburban send-ups, yuppie send-ups, parental send-ups, gender send-ups, hilarious characters, plentiful social satire, and a surprisingly deeply emotional core. Never sentimental, but never brittle either, and always hyperalert, like the best writers and border-crossers, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives is a unique pleasure for all readers."
—Meg Wolitzer, New York Times–bestselling author of The Ten Year Nap
"Zsuzsi Gartner's writing is dazzling, effortless, and clear as a bell. She's able tto crystallize a cultural moment in a way entirely her own that is both instantaneous and eternal. I couldn't let go of it and read it all in one go."
--Doulgas Coupland, author of Generation X
"Gartner’s inventive wit is reminiscent of that of George Saunders, but her tone is more ferocious and angry. Saturated with pop-culture references and intellectually hilarious, these tales dissect the present human situation and warn against darker times to come.”
“[Gartner’s] undeniably original voice charges her stories with irresistible verve.”
“A sleek, surreal sensibility composed of equal parts romance and cynicism powers”
– Elle Magazine
“Brilliant…These are clever stories.”
"[Gartner] uses her sharp wit to deft advantage in portraying a parade of clever, observant, sardonic female protagonists."
“Superb new story collection. [Gartner] is the anti-Munro … The emotional weight of Gartner’s stories comes from the contrast between the persistence of uncontrollable biological urges and an artificial universe.”
“These stories sing with brightness, and the sentences are often dazzling. But beneath the glow nestles the lurk and pull of violence, and it is this crack inside the glass that pushes these stories and characters into frightening, riveting, complex territories."
--Aimee Bender, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
“These stories … thrum with bizarro life, the glowing bastard fruit of irradiated breeding experiments involving the DNA of a meticulous, fact-mad journalist, a snarky critic of hippie/hipster/Yuppie mores, an inventive stylist and an old-school fabulist.”
--The Globe and Mail