Here are 33 weird, wonderful stories concerning men, women, teleportation, wind-up cats, and brown paper bags. By turns whimsical and unsettling — frequently managing to be both — these short fictions describe family relationships, bad breakups, and travel to outer space.
Vukcevich’s loopy, fun-house mirror take on everyday life belongs to the same absurdist school of work as that of George Saunders, David Sedaris, Ken Kalfus, and Victor Pelevin.
Here’s an interview with Ray Vukcevich.
“Eccentric short stories, which frequently give everyday life a loopy twist.”
“Ray Vukcevich is a master of the last line.”
—The Review of Contemporary Fiction
- Philip K. Dick Award finalist
- Locus Recommended Reading 2001.
- Meet Me in the Moon Room and “Whisper” were on the Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot.
- The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror XV Honorable Mentions: “Pretending,” “Beatniks with Banjos,” “In theRefrigerator,” & “Whisper.”
- “Pretending” was reprinted in The Best of the Rest 3.
- “Meet Me in the Moon Room” was reprinted in the Oregon Quarterly.
- “Miles and Miles of Broccoli,” an essay by Ray posted on the BookSense.com website.
- Read about Ray in the The Hartford Courant and the Register-Guard.
Cover painting by Rafal Olbinski.
Ray Vukcevich was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and grew up in the Southwest. He spent many years as a research assistant in several university brain labs but is now writing full time. His short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Asimov’s, Twists of the Tale, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Rosebud, and Pulphouse. His novel, The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces, was published by St. Martin’s Press. His latest book is a collection of short fiction called Boarding Instructions.
“I’ve been reading the Ray Vukcevich stories to people over the phone, so I thought I should send out a couple of the books and save my voice.”
– C.C.F., Columbus, OH
“Ray Vukcevich should be as revered as Donald Barthelme or Salvador Dali in the pantheon of modern surrealists. Unjustly deprived of such honors, he should at least be allowed a few weeks in a time-share vacation condo with Don Webb, Rick DeMarinis, Mark Leyner and James Blaylock, literary peers whose absurdist take on existence Vukcevich shares. Did I mention that the condo would occupy an abandoned ICBM silo, as in Ray’s creepily twisted ghost story, “Pretending”? Or perhaps the luxury beach house would perch on a few square inches of the scalp of the barbershop patron who boasts a monkey-filled jungle in his hair, in “The Barber’s Theme”. The writers’ relaxathon could also take place in the outer reaches of our Solar System, once the lucky vacationers grow their organic spacesuits, as average folks do in “By the Time We Get to Uranus.” Or as a last choice, the writers might congregate in the mysterious highway median of “Fancy Pants”, where metamorphoses that would baffle Ovid occur.
“Wherever the greats hold their Beach Blanket Oulipo, Vukcevich will doubtlessly be the life of the party. Alternately melancholy and boisterous, plaintive and assertive, sensitive and outrageous, serious and goofy, Vukcevich’s stories portray a universe not only stranger than the average person imagines, but stranger than he or she can imagine! It’s an uncommon, even scary intellect and vision and talent that can make us believe in wisdom out of a baby’s butt (“Poop”) or nose roaches (“Home Remedy”) or shopping bags over the global head as protection from planet-smasher comets (“No Comet”). And believe we do, thanks to Vukcevich’s honed, transparent, yet unmistakeable prose stylings. Plunk down a blindfolded critic in the middle of a Vukcevich landscape, and within two sentences the savant will know just what capricious deity is in charge. The critic will also be reduced to a gibbering, adoring, spastic wreck, but them’s the breaks.
“If you don’t instantly agree to meet Vukcevich in his unique Moon Room club, solely on his terms–well, you’re the kind of timid soul who would turn down a blind date with Destiny even if the demiurge came dressed in the form of Little Kim or D’Angelo.”
– Paul Di Filippo
“What other writer could make you start laughing halfway down the first page of a story about a man putting on a sweater? Thurber maybe, a long time ago. Buy this book.”
– Damon Knight, author of Humpty Dumpty, An Oval
“These stories cannot be compared to anyone else’s. There is no one in the same class as Ray Vukcevich. The stories are uniquely, splendidly, brilliantly original, a surprise in each and every one, and brimming with wit and laugh-out-loud humor. A stunning collection.”
– Kate Wilhelm, author of Desperate Measures
“In Ray Vukcevich’s ingenious stories the absurd and the profound are seamlessly joined through fine writing. Meet Me in the Moon Room is a first-rate collection.”
– Jeffrey Ford, author of The Beyond
“I once heard Ray Vukcevich say about life, humanity, and writing, “All we have is each other.” In the spaces between us lie some very strange territories, and this is the ground Ray explores in his stories. There is no other planet like planet Ray; once you visit, you’ll want to go back as often as you can. In Meet Me in the Moon Room, you get an explosion of guided tours. Grab the bowl with the barking goldfish in it, wind the cat, curl up in a comfortable chair in an abandoned missile silo, and plunge into the wild mind of Ray Vukcevich. No one else can take you on this trip.”
– Nina Kiriki Hoffman, author of Past the Size of Dreaming
“Ray Vukcevich is a marvelous writer. His perspective is skewed, giving us a whole new take on the world. His use of language is unique. And, perhaps most delightful of all, is that Vukcevich stories are completely unpredictable. I envy the person who will be reading Ray Vukcevich for the very first time.”
– Kristine Kathryn Rusch, editor of The Best from Fantasy & Science Fiction: A 45th Anniversary Anthology