Monday, November 4, 2013

The magical potential of outer suburbia

Tales from Outer Suburbia
If you are still looking for a book to read for the A More Diverse Universe tour but don't have time to commit to a long read, then I would humbly submit Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia as an option for you.  It's a series of illustrated short stories (very short stories) that you could easily get through in an afternoon or evening.  But the combination of the beautiful illustrations and the haunting stories will stay with you for quite a while.

I was introduced to Shaun Tan from his book The Arrival (also a great option for #Diversiverse - and NO words in that book!) and have been wanting to read Tales from Outer Suburbia since then.  Luckily, I was in the library last weekend and found it on the shelf and snatched it up.

This is one of those rare books that I think you can start reading as a child and then continue reading through every phase of your life, and get something more and something different from it as you get older and wiser and have more experience.

The first story, for example, features a fortune-telling bull sitting in a field.  People are used to seeing the bull, so they ignore it.  But one day, the bull is gone, and then everyone wishes they had paid more attention to him and followed his instructions.

There is another story about how everyone in the country is required to have a bomb in their yard to keep them safe from enemy attacks.  Everyone first keeps them clean and makes sure that they are good to go at a moment's notice.  But then as time passes, they convert the bombs into gardens and barbecues and all sorts of other things.  And they hope that those enemies they've never seen have done the same.

Most stories have this air of melancholia and wistfulness to them, but they are all generally happy stories.  They're truly lovely.  I loved reading all of them, and the pictures that accompany them are absolutely gorgeous and worth staring at for a few minutes to fully appreciate the depths they show.  I really enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to you for either #Diversiverse or for any other afternoon that you'd like to sit around and think about worlds that might have been and friends you may have made.


  1. I love this book! I wish I knew where my own copy has gotten off to. I'd re-read it just for the heck of it.

  2. Shaun Tan is just so relentlessly cool and great. I love his artwork.


I read every comment posted on this blog, even if it sometimes takes me a while to respond. Thank you for taking the time and effort to comment here! Unless you are spamming me, in which case, thanks for nothing.