The edgy stories in Meijer’s debut collection cut like so many wild teeth: sharp, deep, and unforgiving.
Whether they’re seeking out sex or companionship, outrunning or embracing cruelty, the female characters in these 13 stories take all the air out of the room. Throughout the collection, Meijer breaks open taboos about sex, disability, melancholy, and violence with the careful precision of a teenager egging the house of her mortal enemy. Here is all the raw anger, fear, malice, lust, and confusion of women used to threats, stalking, and ceaseless observation, who live with their lives hanging every day in the balance. In fiction, Meijer seems to say, they have a shot at making their own rules—and the results are strange, unsettling, and addictive. The foundling in “Love, Lucy” is determined to prove her disturbing lineage to the kind man who fostered her, with devastating consequences. In “Whole Life Ahead,” a ghost simply wants to be left alone, although a delusional man seems set on making her his girlfriend. And, in “Fugue,” three teens who think they have a shot at intimidating a young gas station attendant into sex have a terrifying—and heartbreaking—surprise waiting for them. In deft, clear prose, Meijer takes everyday moments of loss and loneliness and threads them through with elements of the gothic, fantasy, and fairy tale. “If it’s not sex and not food and not a night out with the girls then what is it that I need? What is the nature of this hole and with what do I seal it up?” Kathleen asks herself in “The Daddy,” a strange and sad tale about a woman who, discontent with her marriage, turns to a fetish website for comfort. Taut and ruthless, Meijer's tales somehow manage to be both believable in their strangeness and recognizable in their pointed cruelties. Here are the misfits, the overweight, and the lonely. The obsessives and the broken. Here are the monsters—and they look an awful lot like you.
A dark and surprising new voice in short fiction.