Journal of Writing & Environment

Flyway Summer Reads: Lindsay D’Andrea on Patrick Somerville’s “The Universe in Miniature in Miniature”

You may have heard the buzz about Patrick Somerville‘s latest novel, This Bright River, but if you’re looking for something more on the “miniature” side this late into the summer reading season, first check out Somerville’s story collection, The Universe in Miniature in Miniature (Featherproof, 2010). Looking at the book’s spread (which boasts the ability to transform into a homemade mobile), you will wonder if the stories inside live up to the design’s promise of whimsy, scientific play and bizarre, slightly unhinged voice. And you will close the book satisfied. Each story combats the WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? of human life with even more insistent proclamation of what it means to be human in a time when no one can be too sure of the answers. The relief here is that Somerville’s characters never take themselves too seriously — or else they take themselves so seriously that the gravity of their voices give way into a truer kind of meaning. Throughout each piece, the world teeters on some unfathomable edge of an even more unfathomable universe, but the narrative ultimately survives.

If you’re looking for a collection of voice-propelled short stories — from several pieces of flash fiction to the collection’s concluding novella — then Patrick Somerville’s The Universe in Miniature in Miniature is the summer read for you. Order the book (from Powell’s or another indie bookstore), read feverishly, and finish the experience with a cockamanie attempt at constructing the book’s solar system mobile. After all, why are books still around anyway, if not to cut along the dotted lines and add popsicle sticks, then string?


Lindsay D’Andrea is the current publicity manager and head blogger for Flyway.