A review of
What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us
by Laura van den Berg
1. Mythical/Elusive/Almost-Extinct Creatures
Throughout the pages of this story collection, strange beasts lurk in jungles and lakes and minds: shadowy, sought-after, difficult to catch. On the actual-to-mythical spectrum, these creatures fall between real (lemurs in Madagascar, the mapinguary in the Amazon) and believed to be real (the Loch Ness monster, the Congo’s river-stopping sasquatch known as the mokele-mbembe, a giant Lake Michigan water snake called mishegenabeg). A woman channels Bigfoot, “lumbering through the forest, more alone than any human could grasp,” because when she’s in bestial character, “everything real about my life blacks out.” She’s not the only one who craves escape: characters pursue legends and rare specimens in attempts to flee their own tangled realities. This cast of creatures helps the stories explore what we believe, what we fear, and how we try to “bridge the unbridgeable.”
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