"On a cold night last winter there was a fire at the house of a man who only days before had beaten his dog to death. Being a strong man, he was able to rescue all his belongings single-handedly, carryng them out of the burning building and onto the front lawn. As soon as he finished, a hundred dogs of every shape and size trotted into the flickering light from the surrounding shadows and promptly sat on top of every appliance a piece of furniture as if it were there own. They would not let the man come close and snapped at him viciously when he tried to hit them, but otherwise remained still, staring impassively at the flames." -- From the story Wake, in Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
In all the thousands of books I've read over the years, I can honestly say I have never seen anything like Tales from Outer Suburbia.
For those who appreciate idiosyncratic art, skewed (yet poetic) observations, and unusual presentation, this book will be right up your alley.
Geared towards children aged 12 and up (but prized by adults of any age who are inspired by utter originality), Tales from Outer Suburbia features fifteen "stories" accompanied by Tan's stunning, pleasantly strange artwork. One "story" is a public service announcement about making your own pet out of discarded items, while another describes a hidden world found in attics all around a neighborhood.
Stick figures roam the suburbs in yet another story, while a bizarre nameless holiday chronicles the yearly ritual of leaving one's most prized possessions under a decorated TV roof antennae for an enormous, blind reindeer to hook upon its antlers before leaping gracefully, taking the beloved objects with him.
And what book can boast that theTable of Contents is just as handsome and original as the rest of its pages? Well, Tales from Outer Suburbia can! The TofC looks like a plain brown mailing envelope with the publisher information as the return address, the mailing address serving as the dedication, and actual story titles represented by mailing stamps--complete with title, story art and page number (the page numbers being the "cost" of the stamp). Too awesome!
If your pre-teen or young adult appreciates smart writing and skilled artistry in various forms, Tales from Outer Suburbia would be a superb addition to their library. Adults who love unusual tales would also appreciate this 96-page book, as would writers and artists who would benefit from a delightful jolt of inspiration and whimsy.
Next, I look forward to reading Tan's acclaimed book The Arrival!