I can't seem to tear myself away from this book. "Pop Art" is a science fiction story about a boy and his best friend, Art, who is not a real boy but, rather, an inflatable doll. But Art thinks, speaks (well, he writes) and feels.
The story reminded me a bit of Ryan Harty's "Why the Sky Turns Read When the Sun Goes Down," one of my favorite stories. What I like about it, and about Pop Art, is that the story is science fiction, but it isn't. It's real people in a different world from the one we're in. Same feelings, same issues. There's no consideration in either story about "why"; it's understood that Art is an inflatable boy. He sits in class, gets bullied, needs to avoid dogs and pencils, but no one ever says "why is he inflatable?".
In his introduction to the collection, Christopher Golden says about "Pop Art": " 'Pop Art' is transcendent. The single best short story I have read in years, it brings all of Joe Hill's abilities to bear in a few short pages--the weirdness, the tenderness, the complicity." I couldn't agree more. It's difficult to say much about the story specifically because it's so tightly written that to describe one scene begins to unravel the mystery of it and it's unfair to future readers to do that. Very simply: read this story. Even if you're not a sci-fi fan--especially if you're not a sci-fi fan. It's literary fiction, through and through.