I first discovered Kellie Wells in 2016 when I read her colossal experimental novel, Fat Girl, Terrestrial. It the novel, you will meet “Wallis Grace Armstrong, a giant of a woman. She’s 8 feet, 11 (and-a-half) inches and 490 pounds.” In her latest work, God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna, Wells presents readers with a short story collection, though she loses none of her experimental style.
The stories are organized into five sections: Moon, God, Kansas, Fauna, and Apocalypse. You’ll not find stories here you’ve read before; in one remarkable tale, a boy who fell from the moon is delivered to a circus because he was “born a funambulist.” In another, Wells personifies Time and God, who have a bad relationship. Her personification stories tended to be my favorite, like the case of Kansas going to a party and having to interact with those mean, dreadful other states, which like to play jokes on her or worse — ignore her (Get it? Kansas is a fly-over state?).
One aspect of Wells’s writing that doesn’t always work for me cannot be held against her. We’re talking about a brilliant, inventive woman who is writing for a similar audience. Thus, her vocabulary is oftentimes over my head. I said the same thing of Alison Bechdel in her graphic memoir Fun Home, and I didn’t hold it against her, either. Here is an example of some words I looked up while reading God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna:
Pentapopemptic (divorced five times)
Monadnock (isolated hill or ridge or erosion-resistant rock…)
Amanuensis (literary or artistic assistant)
Inglenook (space on either side of large fireplace)
Vituperation (bitter and abusive language)
Pullet (young hen, less than a year old)
While I was able to work my way through stories, putting in the effort because Wells’s imagination is worth paying attention to, I didn’t finish any of the three stories in the final “Apocalypse” section. At first, I made a real attempt, but then I skimmed the opening sentence of each paragraph in each story to get a sense of the shape and direction of the tale. But, I couldn’t grasp what the stories were about. I left these three stories unread, despite the interesting bits I caught.