An American missionary sleeps on the dung floor in a witch doctor's hut in South Africa. Two women contemplate "poverty porn" while trying to start a nonprofit in China. An heiress locks eyes with a whore on the streets of Cape Town. A college girl stalks Mickey Rourke. A professor from New Jersey gets scammed in Old Havana before Castro's demise. A mom obsesses about the fate of Sesame Street characters. A study abroad student goes home with a Russian street artist. Backpackers question their global idealism. Terrain, both ordinary and extraordinary, work on the imaginations and perceptions of people on the run, freaks in the making, eccentrics by choice.
The short stories in this collection explore, both implicitly and explicitly, the notion of freakiness. They worry over eccentricity, alienation, normalcy, and intimacy. What is it that makes one a freak, makes one want to embrace quirkiness, have the fortitude to cultivate oddity? Is there a fine line between abnormality and the extraordinary? Jennifer Spiegel's stories delve into these questions and others.
Praise for The Freak Chronicles
"The Freak Chronicles is a miracle of a story collection: passionately political and a shout of ambivalence about political passion, intensely personal and furiously global. We readers are lucky to find Jennifer Spiegel, a writer who is self-satirizing and vulnerable and elegant as hell." â€”Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia
"The stories of The Freak Chronicles explore the margins of human behavior and psychology, thereby challenging what it might even mean to be normal or a freak. Spiegel's fiction is hip and edgy, as the subject matter suggests, but never at the expense of her literary art. She makes use of pop culture and the gritty stuff of real lives to explore the theme of human alienationâ€”and she does all this with a literary finesse that charms and impresses. I admire these stories greatly." â€”Okla Elliott, author of From the Crooked Timber