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Amber Sparks Books In Order

Publication Order of Collections

May We Shed These Human Bodies (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Unfinished World (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
And I Do Not Forgive You (2020) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Desert Places (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Amber Sparks is a literary fiction author who is known for “The Unfinished World and Other Stories” that has been critically acclaimed by “Paris Review,” “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times” among many other publications. She is also the author of “May We Shed These Human Bodies,” a short story collection and coauthored “The Desert Places” with illustrator Matt Kish and author Robert Kloss. She has also had her essays and short stories featured in many publications across the web such as Granta. Sparks published “And I Do Not Forgive You” in 2020. Amber attended the University Of Minnesota Twin Cities from where she graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism, English, and Theater. She then got her masters in Communications and political management from The George Washington University. Before she became an author she worked as a digital strategist and editor and worked for a range of renowned publications and brands. She worked as an editor for “Emprise Review,” managed digital strategy and communications for UFCW and AFL CLIO. During this time, she was also writing her essays and short stories. While Amber comes from the Midwest, she currently lives in Washington DC. When she is not working in digital strategy, editing and writing she loves to watch movies, read books on politics, art, and theater and play video games.

Amber has always loved writing and started writing from the moment she could read. Her mother would find her reading anything from the TV Guide to the recipes and ingredients lists on cereal boxes. Once she had read almost everything she could get her hands on, she decided that she should make her own stories. Amber was introduced to genre fiction through television and film and used to watch fairy tales, fantasy, horror and science fiction from where she got most of her tropes and short story ideas. She also read a lot of fairy tale stories from books that her father had left from his childhood. As such, Amber has always been playing with genre conventions and giving them a twist of her own for years. Some of this involves giving them a feminist perspective while also including outsider viewpoints. As for her biggest influences, she cites Nabokov as her literary hero. Amber believes he has a remarkable knack for weaving language and time together to make something truly magical.

Amber Sparks writes in the imaginative and fearless tradition of the likes of Kelly Link, Karen Russell, and Angela Carter. She writes to make the strange feel like home, the familiar strange while focusing on the extraordinary. She makes use of everything from post-apocalyptic scenarios, myths, ghost stories and fairy tales to make for uncanny stories. Amber does this while also managing to incorporate other themes such as the MeToo Movement, feminism and what might lie beyond them. In an article she wrote for the magazine Electric Literature, she described her fiction as domestic fabulism. In this way, she came to christen a whole body of work written by similar authors such as George Saunders and Kelly Link. Their work is characterized by unreal elements and the bending of the postmodern in the writing of a globetrotting adventure that is set in the home setting rather than in the fabulous. As such, much of her work is outlandish and often deals with quotidian and familial relationships. Her works are typically comprised of a glittering collection of literary narratives ranging from a few pages to the length of a novella. The medium is just as diverse as they can be stories that negotiate prose poetry and flash fiction while comprising thought experiments and character sketches. Some have no clear chronology while others have a linear arc.

“The Unfinished World and Other Stories” by Amber Sparks employ the elegant concision and restraint that is common with authors such as Aimee Bender and Alissa Nutting. Just like her contemporaries, the novels in the collection show a smart surrealism and casual fantasy as they burrow into the ecstatic jags and darkened corridors of adulthood. They also dig down into the tribulations and whimsy of childhood without getting bogged down in one direction or skipping a beat. The stories do this well with their use of poetics and prose that the author has proven to be a master of. One of the core themes of the stories is death though it is dealt with sensitivity and bravery even as it is spun in multiple directions, speculated and toyed around with. The society in which the stories are set include visions of ghostly nuisances, genetic curses, homicidal geriatrics, karmic rebirths and subzero temperature that threaten human life and civilization. As such, familial bonding/belonging or the lack of it are unifying and critical roles in the tales. They are an aggregate of miniature world-building and narration that are powerfully imagined, funny, painful, smart and beautiful.

Amber Sparks’s “May We Shed These Human Bodies” is a collection of literary curiosities just like her debut. The commonalities in the stories in the series is a commitment to unusual form and content. Staying true to the traditions of the likes of Aimee Bender, Dan Chaon, and George Saunders, she combines fantasy, science fiction, and horror that reads more like high literature. However, Sparks goes further than that as she also leans into aspects of modernist techniques and magical realist tropes. As such, the collections often feature modernist aspects including defocalization and stream of consciousness that are particularly evident in the story “The Process of Human Decay.” The story, like many others is narrated from a radically embodied perspective. As such, Sparks shows herself an energetic author willing to find stories from wherever they may be.

Amber’s collection “And I Do Not Forgive You” is a compelling read that has some common takes of history and myth. The creativity in most of the stories shines through though they still manage to portray the human and especially female experience that is all too familiar. There are stories set in the distant and near future, some in the present and others in the past. While they may all be different they strive to showcase the experiences of the characters using short-form narrative and know tropes. At their core, the stories are about showing contemporary people living in the real world where they have to deal with the vagaries of city life, familial betrayal, and technology. The highly original stories range from medieval tales of queens, kings, and princes, to fairy tales and life living in the cities of modern-day Europe and America. Straddling, mixing and matching genres, Amber manages to write stories that are stylistically, and thematically compelling. While all come with a female protagonist they all have a moral lesson and assert that it is impossible to hold down a virtuous woman for long.

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