Characterising Peter Carey's stories takes us to the heart of his fictional practice. Most adopt a mixture of narrative modes, a central feature of his writing. They contain elements of science fiction, fantasy, fable and satire. Grouping the stories around themes and issues, and considering an example of each in detail alongside other related stories allows for a fairly comprehensive insight into Carey's shorter works. This grouping also provides some key threads for later discussions of the longer fiction. Four of the most significant areas of themes are American imperialism and culture, capitalism, power and authority, and gender. America has a spectral fascination for many Australian writers, as Don Anderson has pointed out. 'American Dreams' takes the orthodox realist story of outback communities and injects a dislocating strangeness into it. The critique of the obsessive consumer culture of tourism has become a significant concern for Australian writers and cultural commentators.