Strange Stories for Surreal Times

When the world seems even more bizarre and unsettling than usual, sometimes it’s helpful to retreat into comforting, light-hearted stories. Sometimes, though, it can be just as therapeutic to dive head-first into the surreal with stories like these– which are all currently available to Livingston Library cardholders through Hoopla or Overdrive.


LilithsBroodLilith’s Brood: The Xenogenesis Trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) – Octavia E. Butler
Following a devastating nuclear war, human survivors are abducted, studied, and manipulated by aliens who hope to improve the lives of both species. Author Octavia E. Butler profoundly explores knotty topics like scientific ethics, race, and gender from various perspectives across this vastly absorbing and mind-bending literary epic.

Mumbo Jumbo – Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Reed’s 1972 novel blends magic, history, and satire into a spellbinding story about an epidemic that spreads frenzied, liberated dancing across Roaring Twenties America.

HominidsFalling in Love with Hominids – short stories by Nalo Hopkinson
Shopping mall ghosts; fire-breathing chickens; a post-apocalyptic world where adulthood means morphing into cannibalistic monsters… Nalo Hopkinson’s short fiction weaves centuries of folklore together with modern sensibilities to create unforgettably strange, uncannily familiar worlds.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
A Tokyo man’s search for his lost cat unfolds into an intricate, dream-like odyssey. Murakami masterfully balances the mundane and the weird in this monumentally engrossing novel.

The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington (read by Justine Eyre)
In addition to painting superbly surreal art, Leonora Carrington wrote the kinds of stories where, for instance, hyenas attend debutante balls. Justine Eyre’s lively yet disciplined narration is perfectly suited to make Carrington’s deadpan absurdity really pop.


Director Terry Gilliam brings a quixotic sense of adventure and his Monty Python-bred absurdism to this tale of a romantic daydreamer beset by Kafkaesque bureaucracy and Orwellian dystopia.

Brazil also owes a debt to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a sci-fi film from 1927 with striking visuals and class-conscious themes that are still tremendously powerful almost a century later.

Blue Velvet
A young man investigates a ghastly mystery and discovers an alluring yet terrifying world in the underbelly of his white-picket-fence hometown. David Lynch is a paragon of surreal cinema, and Blue Velvet is one of his most seductive films.

ColorOutOfSpaceColor Out of Space
After a meteorite crashes onto their farm, a family’s life slowly spirals into a demonic, hallucinatory nightmare. This film stars Nicolas Cage, and is based on a story from the deranged mind of HP Lovecraft, so brace yourself for some seriously twisted madness.

Ursula Meier’s film starts as a fairly realistic drama about a close-knit family whose peaceful daily life is disturbed after a new highway opens beside their rural home. But as each family member becomes overwhelmed by all the added stress, their behavior takes a gradual turn toward the drastic and bizarre.

– Joe O’Brien, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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