It's hard not to like Hannah Tinti even before you read Animal Crackers. She's the lone editor and half of a two-woman crew at the avant-garde literary magazine One Story, which consists of one story per issue. While anyone who can persist at such a labor of love and still manage to put Ramen noodles on the table deserves admiration, Tinti also somehow found time to pen a stunningly original collection of stories on the human condition. You could also call it a look at the zoological condition, as each story features an animal. Depending on the story, the beast may be an animal doppelganger of a human character, represent his or her better self or darkest fears, or bear the brunt of a human character's misery.

In these stories, Tinti walks lonely paths of pain as if she owned a trail map. They are written boldly, without a misstep or false note whether she's writing about anthropomorphic zoo giraffes on strike in "Reasonable Terms" or an untamable and unbreakable woman in "Miss Waldron's Red Colobus." The result is a prodigious debut full of dark humor, style and compassion that sets the bar extraordinarily high for Tinti in the future.

Ian Schwartz writes from New York City.


comments powered by Disqus