The cover of Fernando A. Flores' short story collection, Valleyesque: Stories by Fernando A. Flores

MCD x FSG Originals. 2022. 210 pages.

Reviewed by Colleen Mayo

Two lines from Fernando A. Flores’ 2022 short story collection Valleyesque zapped me and left my brain ringing for days:

“…perhaps living in a society where realism is the reigning literary form renders that society powerless against its own absurdity. Strange stories had helped me give meaning to painful moments of survival, and strange stories were the only things I could continue feeding into the machine.”

These lines come from the collection’s sixth story “Nostradamus Baby”. The protagonist is a successful novelist who makes extra money by meeting with amateur writers to talk about their terrible book ideas. When he’s not listening to retired, casually racist babyboomers discuss their spy thrillers, his wife Denorah and he worry about paying rent, try not to think about children locked in cages at the Texas-Mexico border, and do their best to cultivate a