Vanilla Bright Like Eminem Review
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Social outcasts, the misunderstood, and a few outright sociopaths comprise the majority of leading characters in this collection of short stories, Vanilla Bright Like Eminem. Dutch-born author Michel Faber, who now lives in Scotland, vividly portrays the forgotten and the anti-heroes of Scot society with a few “normal” (or should I say “familiar”) protagonists sprinkled in for flavor in this imaginative sixteen-story book.

The opening piece, “The Safehouse,” follows the hesitated feelings of a homeless man who’s entering a shelter for the first time. This poor soul interprets the histories of the other dejected who now reside with him. The stories that follow include a husband returning home from a mental hospital, a former drug addict who, upon visiting her son, is torn with love, an aging author suffering from dementia, and a mother who “broke” her baby.

One story centers on a ruthless dictator who must rely on an exiled surgeon to save his life. “Flesh Remains Flesh” focuses on a wicked businessman in 1861 who yearns to immortalize beauty at any cost. And let’s not forget the young man who abuses his woman. Though you may find yourself somewhat amused while reading the sordid and particularly gruesome details, the author won’t let you sympathize with these criminal protagonists.

Faber colors his characters with skill and detail. Because of his exceptional building of plot and character, I anticipated a vivid climax for each story, and I was disappointed when some failed to meet my expectations. However, most of the tales are so unique and well-written, with enough culmination and insight, that I would still recommend this book.

In fact, Faber more than redeems himself with the book’s final story, “Vanilla Bright Like Eminem,” in which he takes a cynical but genuine look at our individual lives. What if we could take a peek into the future and find our happiest day? Oooh, maybe not. I’ll just stay with the old cliché “Ignorance is bliss.”

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