Book Review by Katy Haas.
Zac Smith wants you to know that everything is totally fine. Or maybe it’s totally fucked. Or maybe it’s totally normal. Or maybe it’s somehow all three at once. Forthcoming Everything Is Totally Fine is a collection of flash fiction presented in three sections: “Everything is Totally Fucked, “Everything is Totally Fine,” and “Everything is Normal Life.” The stories are a little zany, a little bit off-kilter, which makes every page fun and unexpected. But there is one thing a reader can come to expect after reading a few of these little stories: things are maybe not okay, despite the narrators’ wishes to repeat how totally fine it all is.
The narrator of “Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Frosted S’mores Pastries 2ct” wants to “explore new ways of feeling like shit” and ends up “feeling like shit in the wrong way, or feeling like the wrong kind of shit.” The man in “Giving Up Requires Agency in a Way that Feels Like It Shouldn’t by Virtue of Being the Act of Giving Up,” leaves the piece feeling “miserable in a deep, ominous way.” Even the titular octopus of “The Octopus” “felt unhappy and didn’t know what would make it happy. It reasoned possibly nothing could.”
Maybe it’s the shorter, colder days, or the approach of year three of a global pandemic, or reflections on society and climate change and politics and on and on and on that makes these hopeless stories so enjoyable and relatable despite the pitiful and off-the-wall circumstances. Maybe it’s the mix of seriousness and silliness that is everyday, normal life, or the vague notion that none of it matters, not really. Whatever it is, Zac Smith’s figured it out in this fun, fucked, fine collection.
Everything is Totally Fine by Zac Smith. Muumuu House, January 2022.