Altered Statements (Arsenal Pulp, 133 pages, $12.95 paper) is a collection of short fiction from M. A. C. Farrant, a writer in Sidney, B.C. Hers is a surreal world populated with insane, aggressive grandmas, giant, deformed babies and "the Miss Havisham Club in their rotting wedding gowns, trailing cobwebs." She takes some well-aimed shots at consumerism, conventional medicine, gender roles, TV, the media, and bureaucracy. In "Yes Made Famous", she speaks about our age of conspicuous consumption:
"Between God and our newly-created souls what we had was credit, buying power, and the lovely coolness of things.
"A brief golden age, I'm convinced. One day they'll tell stories about all the wonderful things we had."
Though this book has but 133 pages, it contains twenty-seven pieces of fiction, including several very short experimental pieces. These are intense little tales; reading more than a few at a time is difficult. There are more than a few flashes of brilliance here, and some very wry observations about our society and our values. But the absurdity that is characteristic of nearly all of these pieces, especially the shorter ones, can at times become silly, even tiresome. The longer stories are generally more successful and give Farrant a real chance to flex her wit.