Frequently in the short stories in American Soma, Savannah Schroll Guz describes a near-future just slightly distinct from our present.
It's a fallen world where a government surreptitiously drugs the people into compliant bliss, and hormones in the water scramble human genitalia. In one story, a loner plans to end the world. In another, the world seems about ready to end on its own.
Characters in stories apparently set in the present fare minimally better. A middle-aged man in a torpid marriage dreams of dissecting his wife. Bureaucracies and corporations conspire to stamp out Third World cultures. A man who (in one story) dreams of examining the bones of mankind's evolutionary forebears is (in the next) barred from the museum because he has become -- inexplicably, even to himself -- a bedraggled street person.
But while Guz sets the tone with stories that eye our prospects as a species warily, these don't comprise the whole of American Soma. Guz, a West Virginia-based writer (and occasional CP art reviewer), is indeed perhaps most ambitious in the range of subject matter, forms and even genres she tackles.
Her cautionary science fiction sits alongside "Patent Leather Sidewalk Evangelist," a bitingly ironic story that recalls Flannery O'Connor. The humanistic fantasy of "The Fountain" -- filthy tavern toilet springs the fountain of youth -- contrasts with the quietly chilling "Secret Convexity," about a young woman's descent into depression. Guz even offers a few short, funny epistolary pieces, including "A Salesman Reborn," a kiss-off to a boss that suggests something from George Saunders' oeuvre....(read more at the link below)