I read "Dirt Baby" in one go and laughed so hard I feared I might cough up a lung. My wife rushed into the room to see if I was alright, and I composed myself long enough to read her some of Stuart Millard's more morbidly hilarious bits (of which there are many), and soon tears were streaming down her cheeks as well. With these short fictions, some as brief as a few paragraphs, Millard expertly transforms the ludicrous into something quite real. In "The Stripper," a striptease artist removes much more than her clothing. In "The Ebsen Reaction," the love sick are prescribed a pill, known as Stone-Heart, which allows them to stop feeling altogether. And in "Leaping Larry," a brilliant send-up of the self-help industry, we learn where the one-step-at-a-time cliché leads to when taken to the extreme. My favorite piece, "Frozen Out," about a lonely man's encounter with a talking snowman, is at once hysterical and heartbreaking. It would be a mistake to dismiss these stories as mere absurdist humor. Through skillful use of comic exaggeration, Millard makes us see a larger truth--namely, so much of what we accept as "normal" in life is what is truly absurd. His writing may not be for everyone--but nothing really good ever is. I've never read anything more wildly inventive.