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Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite
For a collection of stories that stray delightfully off the beaten track of cookie cutter characters and plot lines without any roadside surprises, you can do a lot worse than venturing around inside Unpredictable Worlds: Stories by Jessica Knauss. While the stories are widely divergent, they are grouped around a series of themes that serve like hubs for the author's imagination to take off. The first of these is Magical Realism (although I should add that elements of magical realism can be found in works of the other categories as well). Next, you can sprint through a series of micro fiction, before immersing yourself in the lives of women, rhinos and the women who love them - the rhinos, that is. An author's note provides insight into the inspiration behind various stories.
I enjoyed taking a trip through the author's imagination - that is exactly what Unpredictable Worlds: Stories by Jessica Knauss was, a journey of wonder. I loved the Rhinoceros Stories. Rhinoceros Dreams was definitely a favorite, but some of the other stories reflect the anger and grief that I have also felt about the rapid decline of rhinoceros species around the world. If you pay attention, you may notice subtle links between some of the stories. The connection between Alternativa and El Novirello, the two Hemingway stories is fairly obvious, but you may miss the clue that ties Green Hot, one of the bonus stories, with Threads Woven, a rich tapestry of creativity and character with Miriam, a middle-aged artist, at its heart. Going through a dry spell and suspecting her husband of infidelity, Miriam takes on creative writing lessons as well as the weight of a young co-student's hardships to reach a stunning breakthrough in her work. Pandering is another story that deals with the interesting relationship that can exist between a work of art and its audience. The Consequences of Neglect and How to Make Amends tells a beautiful story of healing that made me consider this broken world of ours and think "if only."