The Tiny wife is one of the shortest books I’ve ever read, and one of the strangest. This book was recommended to me, and as I have been wanting to read something by Andrew Kaufman for a while, I thought I would start with this novella.
The Tiny Wife is described as a “modern fable” on Goodreads, and as “Charmingly wonky” on the back of the book. It’s full of the fantastical, which is not normally my thing, but it held my interest, made me think, and made me laugh. It really did make me think; I spent the whole book trying to figure out why what was happening was happening. I’m still not sure I’ve entirely figured it out.
The robbery was not without consequences. The consequences were the point of the robbery. It was never about money.
This is how the story begins. A flamboyant thief in a purple hat comes into a bank in downtown Toronto and asks each person to hand over the most sentimental item they have with them. Before he leaves, he makes this speech:
It has come to my attention that the vast majority of you, if you even believe you have a soul, believe it sits inside you like a brick of gold. But I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
When I leave here I will be taking 51% of your souls with me. This will have strange and bizarre consequences in your lives. But more importantly, and I mean this quite literally, learn how to grow them back or you will die.
The rest of the book tells of the strange and implausible tales of the unfortunate victims of the bank robbery; a man gets his heart pulled out of his chest by his ex; a woman discovers she is made completely out of candy and her husband eats her up; a woman’s husband turns into a snowman and she stashes him in the freezer; another woman’s lion tattoo leaps off her ankle and chases her.
The story is narrated by the husband of one of the victims. His narration gives us an interesting perspective on the story, being one step removed from the action. He seems almost unconcerned by the crazy things that are going on. Understandably, he is concerned about his strained marriage, but he doesn’t seem too panicky about the fact that his wife is shrinking. A lot. She’s shrinking more and more everyday. But, what can they do about it?
I am not going to analyze the book, or tell you what I think it all means, beyond saying that it has to do with looking more closely at ourselves and what is important to us. Partly because I am afraid I don’t really know the answers, but also because it might mean something different to everyone. But, if anyone reads it, or has read it, please let me know what you think in the comments.
The thing I appreciate most about this book is how imaginative it is. I found myself laughing out loud over the outlandishness of the stories. I definitely plan to read more from Andrew Kaufman, just to see what else he’s come up with. His other books are All My Friends are Superheroes, The Waterproof Bible, and Born Weird. Good titles.
For more details and insights into the meaning of the book, read this review at Bella’s Bookshelves. I liked the book, but I think she loved it.