Dealing with family, moving across the country, and tackling freelance work. It’s been a busy six months. And it’s been a minute since I broke off some time to sit down and read a book. Which sucks, honestly. Reading is one of those pleasures that spark thought and gets me exciting about my own writing, about the possibility of fiction.
Thankfully, my non-reading streak ended. And thankfully, it ended with Leland Cheuk’s story collection Letters from Dinosaurs.
From a father’s attempt to rekindle a relationship with his estranged son to a janitor puzzling out the mysterious “1776” stickers that appear throughout his office to a man’s life being reduced to bullet points on a page, Cheuk explores the fine balance between assimilation and maintaining ones unique identity. The eleven story collection delves deep into the human desire to belong to something larger than ourselves—whether it be family, community, or a even a corporation. Pulsing through the pieces is the need for normalcy, even if it means accepting absurdities. This idea is deftly highlighted in “League of Losers,” a story told via an email chain that debates both fantasy baseball and how best to commemorate the death of friend’s brother.
As with his debut novel, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, Cheuk’s Letters from Dinosaurs is sharp, funny, and poignant. It is a tightly crafted display of powerful writing that reminds the reader that, no matter our background or experience, we share common need to belong.