Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s first collection of short fiction, Likes—she has also published two novels—reinvents the fairy tale through a contemporary filter, finding the phantasmagoric in the everyday. The nine stories here unfold in landscapes recognizable and mythical, sometimes both at once. In “The Burglar,” a TV writer’s character comes to life and robs the writer’s house in residential Los Angeles. In “Bedtime Story,” a father’s recollection of crashing into Julia Roberts while rollerblading leads to a dizzying exploration of faith, fidelity, and the vagaries of memory. Bynum is a nuanced stylist, and her sense of the world as magical infuses nearly every moment in the book. At the same time, she understands, magic can be dangerous or at least disruptive, which gives Likes its own vivid edge.
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