Review: ‘The Tiny Wife’ by Andrew Kaufman

the tiny wife

I purchased this after reading All My Friends Are Superheroes, wanting more of Andrew Kaufman’s writing style and wonderful imagination. I was far from disappointed. As much as I really enjoyed the other novella, this was has the edge for me – I was just completely charmed by the concept, its graceful execution, the excellent plotting, the poignancy of the storytelling without dripping sentimentality. I was utterly mesmerised from start to finish.

The setup: a thief in a purple hat walks into a bank with a gun. He demands no money, but instead takes from each person there the item of most sentimental value they have on them. He simply leaves when he has collected them, and everyone goes home – but all of them experience strange consequences.

The story is narrated by Stacey Hinterland’s husband, whose wife initially notices no after effects – until one morning she notices – could she be smaller than she was before?

I loved everything about this little fable. The direction the plot would be going in at any given time was not something I could predict. Rather than making it tense, this actually made it really enjoyable for me. Kaufman writes with complete of command of his plot and themes, enough that as a reader you can relax into the telling of the story and enjoy each twist as it comes. The language is excellently pared back. Perhaps it was the setting of a bank robbery, but I was reminded a little of Tobias Wolff’s A Bullet in the Brain.

Like All My Friends Are Superheroes, it features an impressively large cast of characters for such a contained piece of work. What we know of the other survivors of the bank robbery is kept within the boundaries of consequences of the theft on them, but Kaufman makes sure that this all speaks volumes – it is perfectly possible to extrapolate and imagine a whole life for every one of them, before and after, and to comprehend why their experience was a pivotal change.

This is one of my top reads of the year so far, and I highly recommend it. Although so short, I found it just as rewarding as a larger novel, it is so exquisitely crafted.

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