In this debut collection, Oria tests her characters’ definitions of nationality, gender and relationship status, their tenuous senses of belonging to a place and to others.
These are crisply told, biting tales about characters split in two because of country or love. Everything is up in the air for these people; they have no feelings of security or comfort or home. In the title story, a woman in a polyamorous relationship becomes jealous at the discovery of her girlfriend and boyfriend having sex without her. She feels suddenly out of place. “There are two Me’s,” she says: the tough Israeli soldier and the woman trying to fit in in America, where “once a week she gets lost in the city on purpose, then walks—no maps, no questions—until she finds her way home.” In the unsettling and surreal “Victor, Changed Man,” Victor desperately tries to get the woman he loves to come back to him, but she literally disappears into a fog so catastrophic that the city’s “fog clearers were threatening to go on strike.” In the Cheever-esque “Beep,” a woman hears an infernal repetitive sound in her apartment, but no one else seems able to hear it. And in “My Wife in Converse,” Oria explores a newly legalized lesbian marriage—“Before my wife married me, she was married to a man”—which has already fallen apart, leaving the narrator lost and writing forlorn poetry.
Oria's fiction is tense and gripping; it's like the surprising and disconcerting sound that emerges from an instrument played by a traditionally trained musician who's chosen to explore new territory.