Droll Tales

Iris Smyles

In fourteen witty, surreal, and wildly original interrelated stories, Iris Smyles joyfully interrogates the paradoxes of life and language and gives us a new view of our world.

Welcome to the world of Droll Tales, in which reality is a mutually agreed-upon illusion, and life is painful, enigmatic, beautiful, and brief. With an oddball cast of characters who reappear in various guises, Smyles gives us a tour of an enchanted, absurd, off-kilter world with its own workings and ways of expression–one that overlaps our own.

A young suburban woman runs away to Europe to become a living statue, Mallarmé is at long last translated into pig Latin, a house full of surrealists compete for love on a reality TV show, a list of fortune cookie messages reveals the inner world of the young man employed to write them, and a story of love and betrayal is told through the sentence diagrams on a fifth grader’s grammar test.

Romantic, dark, and ironic, Droll Tales is a book like none you have read. It is a philosophical vaudeville, a cabinet of curiosities, a puzzle in fourteen pieces, and a tragicomic riddle articulated in Smyles’s singular style, with the mystery of the human heart at its center.

  • "Erudite, original, and surprisingly poignant. . . . An entertainingly eclectic . . . journey through the odder corners of existence." —Kirkus Reviews

  • "Droll Tales is dark, surreal, and very funny, one of the best combinations a reader could ask for." —Roz Chast, author and illustrator of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

  • "Reading Droll Tales, I flashed on Milan Kundera and David Sedaris, before concluding that Iris Smyles is that rarest of birds, a gifted nut, an eccentric fabulist." —John Patrick Shanley, writer of Moonstruck and Doubt

  • "I am in awe of what a great great great great writers Iris Smyles is." —Patricia Marx, author of You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time: Rules for Couples

  • "A book full of wonders. Brilliant." —Frederic Tuten, author of Tintin in the New World