Saturday, March 24, 2012
Cataclysm Baby - Matt Bell
Cataclysm Baby, Matt Bell
Mud Luscious Press 2012
"For the first crime my daughters took only my thumb... When lined up and accused beside her sisters, all the oldest would say was that my trial had been fair, their court complete even without my presence: One daughter for a judge, one for the prosecution, one for the defense."
-Justina, Justine, Justise
The world is in peril: floodwaters are rising, acid rain is falling, buildings have crumbled and are replaced by vines. In the midst of this destruction are fathers: fighting for their sons, their daughters, their wives, their land, for hope itself. The devastation around them strips these men down to their cores, and as he did so superbly in How They Were Found, author Matt Bell takes us straight to the deepest, most difficult emotions of fatherhood and beyond: fear, grief, disappointment, letting go, betrayal, desperation. The stories in Cataclysm Baby are brief but chilling, some surreally beautiful. All are tautly written and eerily suspenseful, but most of all, intense.
In Justina, Justine, Justise (quoted above), a man's daughters suss out his unfaithfulness and on their mother's behalf, exact their brutal revenge. The trio of daughters in Oneida, Orphelia, Ornella lure a father out into the flood where so many have already drowned. Walker, Wallace, Warren offers lovelier but sadder imagery: a father, grieving his perished family, carves orchard trees into the shapes of each them, desperately trying to keep their memories, but over time forgets their names and the particularities of their faces. In Quella, Querida, Quintessa maturing daughters are tethered in the air in beautiful dresses, floating far above the celebrations of their coming of age, until they are released out into the world.
The stories of Cataclysm Baby are birth and blood, skin and fur, earth and plow, killing and death, love and sacrifice.With their terrifying premises and visceral language, these tales will not be for everyone, but those who read them cannot fail to be moved in some way.
Many thanks to the publisher for a complimentary advance review copy of Cataclysm Baby.