Also of interest…in flights of fancy

A Highly Unlikely Scenario; Autobiography of a Corpse; The Art of Rube Goldberg; The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

A Highly Unlikely Scenario

by Rachel Cantor (Melville House, $17)

Rachel Cantor’s quirky debut has “an Alice in Wonderland feel,” said Lydia Netzer in The New York Times. Set in a near future in which fast food companies rule the world, the novel sends a feckless pizza chain employee on a time-traveling journey back in history after he gets a call from a 13th-century explorer. “There’s a coldness to whimsy” that can suck the life from a story like this, but Cantor has created a compelling protagonist, and “his problems feel urgent.”

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Autobiography of a Corpse

by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (NYRB Classics, $16)

“Something very strange is afoot” in this story collection, said Eugenia Williamson in The Boston Globe. Censored Soviet writer Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky captured the tensions of his time by creating a world in which any object might have a mind of its own. A piece of paper turns into an apartment. A pianist’s hand scurries away. Deep questions are posed, but “they’re delivered in such an entertaining manner that the medicine goes down pleasantly.”

The Art of Rube Goldberg

by Jennifer George (Abrams, $60)

There was more to Rube Goldberg than contraptions, said Maria Popova in The cartoonist specialized in devising imaginary machines that overcomplicated simple tasks, but this collection of his art indicates that he’d be better remembered as an “extraordinary midcentury Renaissance man.” Compiled by Goldberg’s granddaughter and graced by an insightful Adam Gopnik essay, the book “cracks open the treasure chest” of the artist’s mind.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

by Sun-mi Hwang (Penguin, $15)

Shelve Sun-mi Hwang’s fable “somewhere between the innocent frivolity of Charlotte’s Web and the subliminal politics of Animal Farm,” said Dimitri Nasrallah in the Toronto Star. A massive best-seller in South Korea, Hwang’s tale of a hen who flees her coop is more than a children’s book. As Sprout deals with the consequences of her daring escape, this “note-perfect masterstroke of a novella” will resonate with any adult who’s had to balance the desire for fulfillment with the desire for stability.

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