The Inner City

Anything is possible: people breed dogs with humans to create a servant class; beneath one great city lies another city, running it surreptitiously; an employee finds that her hair has been stolen by someone intent on getting her job; strange fish fall from trees and birds talk too much; a boy tries to figure out what he can get when the Rapture leaves good stuff behind. Everything is familiar; everything is different. Behind it all, is there some strange kind of design or merely just the chance to adapt? In Karen Heuler’s stories, characters cope with the strange without thinking it’s strange, sometimes invested in what’s going on, sometimes trapped by it, but always finding their own way in.

Reviews of The Inner City:

Heuler (The Made-Up Man) presents an engrossing collection of 15 tales of the ways individuals and society influence one another. Movements such as environmentalism and fundamentalism are presented without bias in “The Large People” and “The Great Spin,” pointing out both the sensible and the ridiculous. The only unredeemable concept is bureaucracy, costing one woman her job and identity in “The Hair” and another her sanity in “The Inner City.” Other stories focus more on the individual than on a particular issue, both in personal relationships (“Ordinary”) and professional ones (“Thick Water”). The tone shifts easily from fairy tale storytelling (“FishWish”) to internal monologue (“The Escape Artist”). Though the universally strong stories have no explicit connection, they blend to suggest a world that is at once recognizable and distorted, providing a new, clear perspective on the forces shaping contemporary Western culture.
 . . . Heuler blurs the line between genres. Science fiction, horror, fantasy—it’s all here. And so it’s exactly the sort of book that ChiZine Publications in Toronto has become known for producing, not only because of its genre blending—and bending—prose, but because of the excellence of the stories contained within.
The Inner City by Karen Heuler is a collection of tasty mind-candy, offering inventive stories that stretch your imagination.
. . . Heuler’s vivid imagination, strong prose and remarkable visions make The Inner City a collection worth reading.
 . . . these stories  . . . introduce a balanced and well-realised world that drew me in completely from start to finish. In fact, I was disappointed when each story finally came to an end; the ideas are so fantastic and the writing to compelling that I wanted these short pieces to carry on and on . . .
Heuler continues to delight with her thoughtful brand of modern surrealism/magic realism—a criminally underrated writer.
—Jeff VanderMeer
 . . . Heuler’s vivid imagination, strong prose and remarkable visions make The Inner City a collection worth reading.
Occupying the space between multiple genres, from beginning to end this surreal collection is truly masterful, original, full of strength and deep perception and I must suggest making space on your shelf for The Inner City.
Each of the stories is a brilliant gem, and each has a wonderfully strange or macabre or surprising ending. For those who enjoy the strange, the dark, the weirdly beautiful, these stories are definitely for you. Check this great little anthology out right away.
 . . . it’s been a while since I have read such interesting stories.
 . . . [A] wonderfully bizarre set of stories

Other Reviews

goodreads 3.85/5 stars more...

Author Info

Image Credit:
Tracy Sides Photography
Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over sixty literary and speculative journals and anthologies, including several “Best of” collections. She’s published a short-story collection and three novels, and won an O. Henry award in 1998. She lives in New York with her dog, Philip K. Dick, and her cats, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.