Still robed in his white nightgown, Holman grabbed the wheel and started to steer the Saunders-Hill himself. In the distance, the captain—who was attending to an emergency elsewhere—barked directions to turn port and starboard. The boat steadied, the wake settled, and Holman navigated the damaged ship to a nearby harbor for repairs.
When the skipper of the Saunders-Hill returned to the helm, his jaw dropped. He had caught glimpses of Holman's white nightgown from across the deck and assumed the person guiding the boat was his wife.
Instead, he discovered a 36-year-old blind man.
I love stories where somebody pukes.
Okay, what I mean is: I love reading about spontaneous physical reactions from characters. But I also love reading about vomit. And piss. And menstrual blood and shit and spit. Excretions often show us emotional change is happening: pain or pleasure, happiness or grief. Stories that assess the mechanical functions of the body—its readiness to open, to break, to secrete—mark a character’s vulnerability. In contemporary short fiction by women writers, bodies open and leak in numerous ways. Amelia Gray utilizes spew as a tool to startle readers into deeper intimacy. Alexandra Kleeman’s work befuddles with bodies, hollowing them out and subverting secretions to confuse the narrative. Helen Oyeyemi creates sentience from these physical responses in order to sculpt fantastic new fairy tale worlds. Though used in very different ways, all three women showcase the importance of the body and its emissions to narrative structure. By utilizing various forms of “effluvia” in their work, these authors give us greater insight into the human condition. They show us why shit matters.
There is one tangential remnant of the circus that thrills me to the bone, and that is the low-grade confectionary candy called Circus Peanuts. Circus Peanuts, as far as I can tell, have literally nothing to do with circuses, or even with peanuts. They are usually found on the bottom candy shelf at gas-station convenience marts or at some chain drug stores.
Yet with each reading of this volume, one sees more – as one’s eyes adjust to the dark. For in many of these poems light is wanting (in both senses of the phrase).