The Reviewed: Domestic Apparition
The Reviewer: Len Kuntz
A lot of story collections today are idols unto themselves — bland, trite writing that makes one wonder how the author cajoled a publisher into producing the manuscript. But then there are those others. The story collections that knot your stomach with barbwire, flicking out scenes that are disturbing or hysterical or both, but that also feel very real, like contorted bits of a memoir, like dark secrets being told to a priest in a closet smelling of whiskey and menace. These are the kind of stories that thwack you on the back of the head, punch you in the gut, cause you to chuckle, stories that make you stop and get a pen, make you underline a phrase or sentence or star a page.
You’ll find all this and a lot more in Meg Tuite’s new collection, “Domestic Apparition.” In it we meet people we already know, or think we know, until we’re allowed inside their furtive places. These characters are wonderfully flawed. They’re quirky and imaginatively created, each rendered with a distinct voice and an individual sense of purpose.
In Tuite’s book we encounter nuns with men’s names, teens who defecate on lawns, drunks, addicts, suicide victims, cancer patients, rape victims, comedians, shysters and any host of dysfunctional family members.
“A phantom in life can become a ghost,” is the opening line to the collection title story, “Domestic Apparition.”
And then, from “Family Conference,” we have this piece of razor wire: “Fact: One fly strip a week every summer guarantees over a hundred slaughtered. I pull a few live ones off with forceps, place them under the scope, and watch them die.”
And these other ditties:
“But don’t forget, memory is a marauder. Tomorrow everything changes. I, too, am a murderer.”
“I call myself the garbage picker of memory. It situates me with the species. History is a massive web of stories that have been locked up in textbooks and museums, lined up single file by chronology.”
“Rage was just another person in the room.”
“Nobody was happy on a Monday unless an unwanted relative died or someone had gotten lucky over the weekend.”
“Chemotherapy does not save you. Your hair falls out successfully.”
Those are just some samples. Have a go of it yourself. Read Meg’s book. You’ll be glad you did.
Order a copy at: www.sanfranciscobaypress.com
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State. His work appears widely in print and online at such places as PANK, Elimae, The Litertarian and also at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.