The four protagonists in Matthew Baker’s collection Hybrid Creatures are preoccupied with the idea of connection—how to connect with strangers, how to connect with family, how to connect with friends, and what makes a connection sincere. A young hacker attempts to track down his vanished mentor; a boy is equally torn between his mother’s and father’s families; a composer takes a spontaneous trip to Nashville in the wake of his husband’s death and gets stuck on a roof with a hipster philosopher; and an elderly businessman searches for his wife at a dinner party on a remote mountain. Each story in the collection is written partially in a hybrid language: HTML; mathematics; musical notation; and formal logic, the language used to construct philosophical arguments. These hybrid lexicons attempt to capture the consciousness of someone whose experience of the world is filtered through linguistic fusion--and because there are aspects of the human experience, certain connections the characters make, that are only possible to communicate through these hybrid tongues.
In the end, Hybrid Creatures is a moving exploration of how hard yet necessary it is to connect with others and even one’s self, as well as the various languages we use in an attempt to do so.
Matthew Baker is the author of If You Find This (Little, Brown, 2015), a Booklist Top Ten Debut Novel of 2015 and an Edgar Award Nominee for Best Juvenile Mystery. His stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, New England Review, The Southern Review, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. He has an MFA from Vanderbilt University and has received fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, the MacDowell Colony, the Ragdale Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
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