Coyote. Crow. Lear’s fool. Traditional tricksters cross boundaries, precipitate jokes, nourish nightmares, and turn the world on its head. Trickster Tales by well-known chaos writer JP Briggs (Turbulent Mirror; Looking Glass Universe; Seven Life Lessons of Chaos; and Fractals) updates the ancient trickster idea.
In the literary and metaphysical tradition of Kafka, Borges, Marquez and Yourgrou, this collection of thirty-one unrealist quick fictions and longer stories blends elements of fable, parable, essay, realism, surrealism, magic realism, sci-fi fantasy and supernatural horror. The stories include the media-bound destiny of a giant insect; a psychiatrist whose sanity is devoured by a panther; an airborne bow tie; an engineer stripped of his science of a hooker. Throughout, trickster is an work.
Declared dead by pundits, literary irony returns in Trickster Tales. Chaos breaks out. A hidden order emerges.
Reviews of Trickster Tales
The trickster of the title is the force of transformative chaos, a god-devil who appears in many mythologies to mock our certainties and tempt us into dissolution or freedom. Briggs finds the trickster in human form: as a strangely powerful hooker, as a woman who believes herself to be a shaman. But the trickster also haunts us in enormous bugs, flying bowties, and mass-production lines that won’t turn off. There is a breathless quality to Briggs’ fiction that is not so much suspense as a sense of suspension, as though the moorings of reality had been cut. Often his stories start with a deceptively straightforward scene: a woman coming upon her husband talking to two coworkers, and none of them notices her presence. But then the trickster energy starts its work: the husband’s thoughts turn into insects and devour him. Whether in brief flash-fiction or in more apparently conventional short stories, Briggs is masterful at creating dreamy but somewhat nightmarish narratives. Patricia Monaghan Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.
From MARGIN, Magical Realism Website, Tamara Kaye Sellman
Short stories which evolve around a loose concept of the Trickster, a Native American mythological entity which behaves in ways both foolish and wise. Briggs captures the humorous essence of the Trickster well in his stories. Stories to read, in particular: “An Urgent Message,” “The Bow Tie,” “Haircut” and “A Disproportionate Affair.” I couldn’t put down this collection.
Jenny Wade, Ph.D., specialist in consciousness studies and author of Transcendent Sex: When Lovemaking Opens the Veil (Simon and Schuster)
With gentle deftness, JP Briggs slips his laser-scalpel under the skin of our conditioning in Trickster Tales. His beautiful language and many voices take us on a fun-house ride through an Escher-like landscape of interchangeable reality and illusion. Trickster Tales kaleidoscopes the ordinary, the shocking, the amusing, and the profound.
Robin Moore, author of The Man with the Silver Oar (HarperCollins), When the Moon is Full (Knopf)
This collection of modern-day trickster tales demonstrates, once again, how we create order out of chaos by arranging the seemingly random events around us into something we call ‘stories.’ Briggs’ visceral and wily writing style walks the razor’s edge between order and chaos, bringing us face to face with the spirit of the trickster, in ourselves and those around us.
Richard Moore, author of The Investigator (Story Line Press), A Question of Survival (University of Georgia Press)
This is a book of sometimes delightful, sometimes hilarious, sometimes terrifying transformations. A piece of junked luggage becomes the child a couple longs for, a pair of missing dolls become Adam and Eve, a prostitute the All-ruling Goddess. A psychiatric patient’s mad reality consumes that of his therapist. Perhaps it is Vietnam as seen by a Native American in the last of these thirty-one pieces that sets this remarkable book’s tone and anchors its wonderful insights. Don’t miss it, reader!