Tell God I Don’t Exist by Timmy Reed
‘Tell God I Don’t Exist’ seems like a good thing to tell God. Timmy Reed knows how to really get his message across to God. Reed enjoys using gentle surreal flourishes to arrive at a greater truth. Animals feature prominently in almost every story. Unlike pets where the relationship is exploitative and possession-based, Reed avoids outright ownership. He observes these creatures. Whether it is a mermaid or a microscopic creature that’s been shot up to space, Reed cares about the creatures. All he wants is to protect the world from the world. Yes it is a hopeless task but Reed has a surprisingly large amount of hope for the future.
Stories in here get extremely short. A few are less than a page, flash fiction, a mere idea. Yet these are some beautiful pieces. By far one of the most touching is the beginning story ‘Earth was a Living Thing’. Here Reed places his optimism into a creature that’s not quite a creature. Concerns are projected onto the Earth. Features more typical of a person are displayed throughout these stories. Crying spider mommas, imagined tigers, even mermaids possess human characteristics.
Water is another major characteristic. Every story has at least a little bit of water, whether for rain or going down a colorful river. The water washes away a lot of worries. Spiders get the hose. Mermaids find a way to return back to their home. And fishing trips manage to bore Reed so much that he’s willing to leave his comfort zone for the radical unknown. In fact often Reed thinks of having more exciting events. He’s trying to break through to reach out to creatures by trying to rescue them in some way, whether they are moles or tigers.
This is a funny book. Some of the lines are so positively bizarre that it is hard to comprehend. Generally these moments are buried deep within the story. Rather than work as a ‘throw-away’ line they illustrate the general weirdness of the situation. Residing inside someone’s ear is just one example. Licking a road that’s nothing but drugs is another. Finally there’s the list of what should potentially be done with a fictitious vomiting creature. His experience with the turtle is particularly charming where he walks very slowly in order for the turtle to follow behind him.
If Aesop’s fables ever decided to get weird, really weird, they’d look a lot like ‘Tell God I Don’t Exist’. These are the sorts of things that cope with life’s smaller problems, from an extremely personal point of view. Lacking dialogue the attention is paid to the individual’s response to a situation. Other people are mentioned mostly in passing. Rarely is there another character this is an extremely individualistic collection of works. When another character is introduced they are typically sympathetic, almost taking pity on the poor pathetic protagonist.