“[…]A confidently energetic tale of an 18-year-old orphan who leaves Chicago to eke out a new life for herself in Century, Ore., at the turn of the 20th century.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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Junior High, or Middle School.”The Monkey’s Paw.” In that terrifying story-and many others–I learned that humans who wish to undo universal laws are setting themselves up for mockery. The parents who wish their soldier son alive end up with his destroyed but animated remains on their doorstep; the king with the golden touch ends by turning his child from a girl into a statue, and the fisherman’s wife, not satisfied with being the pope, desires to be God, and ends up sitting moodily in her filthy hovel once more. But these vivid warnings never stopped me from wishing for more peace, more solitude, fewer obligations, less business and busyness. What could be better, I thought, than never having to leave the house and grounds?
It turns out that when we never have people over, things get awfully slovenly. It turns out that though we rarely have any social obligation at all, we see our partners or families or ourselves in the mirror much, much more than we want to. In the summer of a pandemic, significance leaks out of time. Moving from one locale to another used to punctuate time. The day of the week identified itself briskly by its proferred faces and voices and roles and tasks. Now, though, in Magic-Mountainous fashion, time flows on unbroken, and possibly unused–a source of unease, if you don’t have much of it to waste.
But time is still told by the budding, blooming and seeding of plants, and the demographics of other comrades (coyotes, voles, mosquitoes, moles, gophers, houseflies, blowflies, bumblebees, honeybees, miner bees, little white butterflies, large yellow butterflies, hummingbirds). They all abide by their critter’s-year clocks, indifferent to us, as we’ve sometimes been indifferent to them. For instance, it’s the season of spiders’ eggs in filamented sacs, insouciant at the intersection of wall and ceiling. So it’s not yet the season of cobwebs and dew. That’s for autumn. That’s still to come.
This site is undergoing a winter update, and may display frustrating tendencies toward mess and chaos. But I assure you it’s much less annoying than the Farm of Cold Comfort, seen below, which has recently experienced frozen pipes, barn flooding, flagrant indoor dog-pooping, a population boom among voracious, bulb-eating voles, and a recalcitrant old-school oil furnace which quit, and then required a six-hundred dollar part, when the outdoor temperature was in the twenties. Therefore be gentle with judgment of this site, and pity us, Cold Comfort denizens, who must always stand tensed for the next disaster.
Just returning from the Associated Writing Programs 2015 conference in MPLS, where I successfully avoided many events I was duty-bound to attend in favor of reconnecting with a handful of the funniest, kindest and smartest folks I know: Peter Ho Davies and Lynne Raughley, Allyson Goldin Loomis and Jon Loomis, John Brandon, Molly Atwell…I also got to read to and hang with a bunch of undergraduate charmers at University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, where people brave the slings and arrows of Scott Walker and fight the good fight for imagination and education. Also: coupla CRAZEE spider monkeys at the Como Zoo in St. Paul. Bumpy plane ride, but peaceful heart.