I offered to review Javier Bonafont’s collection of short stories on a whim. I haven’t read anything with even a hint of sci-fi, other than Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, since I was about fifteen. He sent me Tales of Love and Parasites by email, which I printed off the following day. It was another piercingly hot and dry July afternoon, and I sat in the back garden, trying to keep ahold of seventy-odd sheets of paper loosely bound together. I sucked a cold bud and mused over the work for several hours, stopping only to fetch beer or fresh watermelon. I had my back to the midday sun, and seared an outline of a vest into my pale flesh…

But so much for all that. Let’s get down to the important stuff: Love and Parasites. Two conflicting subjects intertwined gracefully by Bonafont’s hand. The seven tales – which vary in length – are connected through the theme of love, as suggested by the title. A few of the stories are more prominently connected – one earlier in the collection is a mock-historic account involving a Dr. Morris Stanley; a later tale, set in a later time, involves characters’ findings connected back to Stanley. The ‘Parasite’ of the title appears to be a science-fiction driven exploration into the emotion ‘Love’. In the longest story, Bonafont uses the Parasites as catalyst to why humans behave irrationally when ‘in-love’ – which is an engaging theory.

Love, its participants, and the relationship with science and machinery…these themes are a foundation to the work. Bonafont showcases his diversity as a writer – exhibiting a variety of writing styles, including the poetic and dark, “My lids droop. I am a canvas sack of stones and sand yearning for the earth”, to scientifically charged description “Countless tightly wound copper wire coils and arrays of foil “magneto-receivers”…”, and the humorous “…Jeremy professed his love in a multitude of ways…even extending to an inedible heart shaped cake”.

The collection opens and closes in sombre style, and I am steered by instinct to feel the catharsis. Catharsis results from a passion in a subject, and it is obvious that this collection of work has been constructed close to the author’s heart. The preface reads:

This is the first collection of stories I have let loose onto the world. I know they are not for everybody, but if they are out there, inhabiting many heads, then they no longer have to lurk exclusively in my head, and I can maybe have some peace. Perhaps this is selfish.

You can purchase Tales of Love and Parasites for the low price of a couple of dollars here.