This debut collection is subtitled "Love Stories". But Rajesh Parameswaran's intriguingly off-kilter world is far from slushily romantic. The meaning of love for Parameswaran, an Indian-born American, is inventively twisted and often found in death: a Bengal tiger's affection for its keeper can't defeat its primal urges; a fake doctor is visited by his cancer-riddled wife; a frustrated housewife goes to a Thanksgiving party knowing that her stubborn husband is dead on the living-room floor.
The writing is dryly comic and often absurd – in the way of much tricksy short storytelling from America – which is this collection's strength and failing. The title story features a garbled and slightly annoying narrator straight out of Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated – "in her eyelook it appeared she already knew my thinkings" – and the footnotes in "Elephants in Captivity (Part One)" are reminiscent of Dave Eggers. Which is not to say this book won't delight and unsettle, but Parameswaran can sound a bit too much like his peers.
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