Wednesday 14 January 2009

New Release - Tales From Outer Suburbia

Cause for applause as the new book from Shaun Tan arrives. This time he goes in the opposite direction of the highly celebrated and wordless The Arrival to present written short stories accompanied by artwork. There are sixteen stories in all, although some are no more than a couple of pages and each one treats us to Tan's delightful way of making the abstract and alien seem like a part of everyday life. At his best his stories prompt the reader to look afresh at their own habits and customs, such as in the story Nameless Holiday, which twists the idea of Christmas.

The interesting aspect of the book is that Tan showcases a different art style for each story which brings a healthy feeling of variety. As a writer he strays into Neil Gaiman territory though he prehaps not as skilful as Gaiman and on the whole the more affecting tales are the ones where his art is strongest such as Stick Figures and (my favourite) Eric.

Though probably not as impressive as The Arrival or as beautiful and profound as The Red Tree, Tales From Outer Suburbia shouldn't disappoint fans of his work (who are growing in number) and will pleasantly engage newcomers. SLS

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