The Neighborhood

"I am heartbroken still.  Or all over again.  I am orbiting the heartbreak, waiting for it to pull me in."

"I am heartbroken still.  Or all over again.  I am orbiting the heartbreak, waiting for it to pull me in."

As always, the first thing I'm drawn to in Kelly Magee's new book is her fish-lure first sentences: "When the seas warmed, the mermaids washed ashore," "Once a girl found a stray tornado," "The wire children move independently and have recognizable faces."  This is something I so admire about her writing - the right-away whirlpool of it.  The dunk-tank feeling.  Total immersion.  It's the kind of storytelling I wish to emulate.

But as much as the magic, what's really fascinating is this neighboorhood thing.  Mob mentality - how the first person plural operates as a unit, thousand-eyed and myopic.  How a fairytale creates corners.  How even our unchecked memories surround us.  Her stories study the pressure applied by communities in worship, in mourning, struggling with vicious mermaid seductresses.  There's real culpability to living as part of something larger than oneself.  

Even in the stories devoid of neighborliness, "with aggressive layers of hedges and fences and underbrush" - community dictates behavior.   A girl calls a tornado-bite a dog-bite.  A girl hides who she is in her house because that's what this neighborhood does.

It makes me think that the larger things grow the more out of control they become.  A memory that used to be a point on a timeline and is now a planet. The tornado that is thrown a stick  and fetches an apple tree. Setting a woman onto a pedestal so easily - but how impossible to come down.  

Our Dreams Might Align

Disclaimer: I love Dana Diehl.  I've so enjoyed her star-shark of a debut and hanging tight to her kite-tails of sentences.  These stories are explorers and untamable animals and worriers (in the best way).  I feel as though her characters are always on the brink of becoming dangerous versions of themselves, and I love walking that knife's edge with them.

I have so many favorite stories in this collection, from the beam-of-light-husband to the couple raising dragons to the whale-swallowed brothers who tie their shoelaces together "so that if one of us falls into intestines, we both will.