It’s (slightly weird) art, with words added. And I don’t know how Shaun Tan does it. The inside of his mind must be a very ‘interesting’ place to be. He sees more than most of us, turning that seeing into marvellously odd pictures. And then Shaun adds the briefest of stories to go with those images.
Tales From Outer Suburbia is yet another wonderful (and I mean wonderful in the old way; full of wonders) book from Shaun. It’s a collection of short short stories. The story about Eric, the foreign student, is in here. Interesting seeing it differently laid out on the page. It almost changes the story.
Who would think of a wise old water buffalo for a story? Or poetry growing into a large paper ball? Just reading that turned the description of the ball into poetry for me. The weird ‘pre-wedding’ treasure hunt, featuring television sets with teeth, and presumably something Shaun thought of after seeing the traditional Just Married car with posterior dangly bits.
The hidden gardens, or the stick figures (absolutely loved the pictures for that one!), reindeer, amnesia with ice cream. Or how about having your very own intercontinental ballistic missile? It makes so much sense. So does making your own pet from leftover bits. The dog wake. Falling off the edge of your map is more of a danger than I had imagined.
Even the end is something to read. It’s so simple, the way Shaun starts and ends a book, except if it’s that easy, then surely everyone would be doing it?
My favourite story is Broken Toys. It’s enough to make you cry.