By Lidia Yuknavitch
Fans of Lidia Yuknavitch already know all her sentences are consistently some combination of: intense, electric, damp, arresting—this collection of short stories follows that trend. Some are super-short snapshots. Others have a full, pulsing life. And as a collection, they are populated by misfits on the edge of town, people feeling themselves as mammals existing in liminal spaces. The first story sets an astonishing pace that demands the reader close and blink at the book for at least two full minutes at the end. That level of rapture is frequent but not exclusive, as other selections get so gritty they grate.
There is also light fantasy here—language that feels aquatic, otherworldly interactions, several vignettes that unfold like fables. Protagonists range from one roiling in angsty teenhood within eyeshot of a new penitentiary; to a brokenhearted, one-eyed road-tripper; to a tiny organ transporter; to a girlfriend seeking her partner’s forgiveness. Yuknavitch throws an unflinching spotlight on those in the shadowed margins, without being heavy-handed or tokenizing. Too rough to read all at once, these tales are probably best-encountered one complicated, heaving hunk at a time. (4/5)
By Christine Femia
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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