Flying Leap - Short Stories with Dark Humor
Judy Budnitz’s collection of short stories, Flying Leap, is full of dark humor. In many ways, Budnitz took a flying leap by publishing this book because the stories are completely absurd, but she manages to make them seem normal. While Budnitz doesn’t connect her stories through events or characters, she transitions smoothly between stories with her engaging style.
Short stories aren’t everyone’s cup of tea because they lack many of the aspects so many readers enjoy in a novel, like a well-developed plot and characters. In this collection of short stories, Budnitz provides just enough to keep readers satisfied by offering perfect snippets of her characters’ lives. By catching real life moments and putting a dark spin on them, she brings together a collection of stories that are both entertaining and thought provoking. She takes a lot of risks, but succeeds in leaving her readers with a definite appreciation of her voice and style.
“I don’t know what planet Budnitz comes from, but I’m happy to have her. Flying Leap is a tremendous debut – funny, dark, weird, adventurous, slanted and enchanted.”
Books by Judy Budnitz
Take a Flying Leap
Budnitz writes from the perspective of children a lot, but in an engaging way that offers a light spin on the dark stories. Writing from a child’s point of view helps keep her stories from developing downright evil characters and plotlines because society makes more exceptions for the actions of children than it does for adults. Another common element of Budnitz’s stories is pregnancy. She has a way of describing pregnancy, baby-making, and motherhood in a way that makes you want to walk outside and stare at a pregnant woman’s belly, imagining all of the different ways she could have ended up in that situation (surprisingly enough, this isn’t exactly in a sexual way).
Budnitz’s stories vary from topic and theme, but all are equally thought-provoking. The collection begins with “Dog Days”, a story about a man who wears a dog suit. A family ends up adopting him, eventually seeing him as an animal instead of a person in a costume. As a sort of apocalypse descends upon them, and food becomes short, the story takes on a whole new twist. Were do lines between animal and human lie? She ends the collection with “Hershel”—a fairy tale of sorts about a village baby-maker. “They bought babies by the pound back then, and Hershel always gave them exactly what they wanted, not an ounce more or less.” From detailing how Hershel shapes the babies out of dough, to the tragic end of his creations, this story will leave you wanting more. Unfortunately, the book is at an end.
The stories in Flying Leap often leave you wondering where the line between reality and fantasy lies. The stories combine a feeling of ancient tales with the idea of living in a modern world where these lines are not clearly defined or set in stone. She finds the humor in awful things, creating twisted stories that entertain.