By Ted Sanders
Graywolf Press, $15.00, 272 pages

Author Ted Sanders is an instructor at the University of Illinois and Parkland College in Urbana-Champaign. No Animals We Could Name: Stories is a collection of his stories and vignettes. The pieces have no conclusions and characters ruminate excessively on their every uncomfortable and weird feeling. The few real animals mentioned all have tragic endings. A young boy’s pet lizard dies after its tail is whacked off and a dog is hit and killed by a car. One character describes his feelings as his car crashes, having just missed hitting a deer. In another story, a woman in a wheelchair sews a cloth lion and fantasizes that it interacts with her. Another character destroys his hand with a mallet. The story follows his thoughts as he goes through amputation, seeks treatment in a mental hospital and considers suicide. One vignette focuses on a female dwarf who visits a party and is attacked by a dog as big as she is. Strange sexual content pops up throughout the book. It is tough to imagine how and why this book has won as many writing prizes as it has.

Reviewed by Rosalie West