A beautiful and strange short story collection by a northwest author. Reading this book is a jarring experience: it forces you to imagine Seattle post-earthquake, for example. But it's also very funny, and at times downright weird. My favorite story of the collection is about a Californian woman who is convinced that a man at an auto factory in Detroit is pushing a button to make the items in her kitchen drawers fall to the ground in the morning.
Get lost with octopuses in space, time travelers (or immortal people, it's unclear) at the end of the world, and memories so vivid you couldn't have made them up-- except you did.
— From James
In I'm Fine, But You Appear to Be Sinking
the strange and the mundane collide. These are stories of strange experiences set in familiar places, and of familiar experiences set in strange places. Many of the pieces in I'm Fine
take place close to home, in suburban neighborhoods, or rural communities. The settings are conventional, yet something unexpected, or even magical, is occurring. In one piece, a couple speculates about random objects that appear without reason in their backyard. In another, neighbors try to figure out if a local meth dealer is keeping a live tiger captive on his property. In other pieces, it's the setting that's fantastical, but the characters' reactions that remain ordinary, like in the titular story where a journalist lost at sea and hunted by a mythical ocean creature admits to struggling with loneliness and isolation in much the same way he does even when he's safe at home.
Although they are not directly linked by any specific character, the pieces in this collection are bound through reoccurring imagery and a shared theme of protagonists in emotional peril. There are unexpected appearances and disappearances, movement of inanimate objects, the search for something lost, the finding of something unusual. There are prophesies, dreams, unidentifiable creatures, and environmental catastrophes on a scale both large and small. There are action figures and octopuses, sullen teenagers and missing cats. At their core, these stories are imbued with mystery, oddity, humor, and empathy. They each stand on their own, but mean considerably more when read together.