What We Fed to the Manticore by Talia Lakshmi Kolluri

   This was such a beautiful collection of stories. Sad, but so so beautiful. The sadness is incidental, there because that is how life is, not to push you to tears and revel in your sobs. It’s a comforting sadness. I like how one reviewer described them as: tender. They taste like sugar mixed with the salt of your own tears, like the taste of hot chocolate when you’re crying. Even the Authors Note is a mix of colors and feelings, beautiful and spoken directly to the reader.

   I thought a lot about how best to read this collection. One by one or all together. At home cloaked in silence or at a table in a busy coffee shop with a drink in one hand. Alone or with a partner. And I think I have the answer. I would read "The Good Donkey" in a quiet stall listening to the slow breaths and loud brays of a donkey in the stall next to me. I would read "May God Forever Bless the Rhino Keepers" in the middle of the Savannah, resting against the stomach of a content rhino, a dog curled at my feet. I would read "The Open Ocean is an Endless Desert" underwater, listening to the songs of whales. And so on.

   While that would be ideal, at least for me, the author is so talented that I have no need to travel to feel the snow on my face as sled dogs pull me through snow. Her writing is immersive all on its own.