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SPELL HEAVEN by Toni  Mirosevich


And Other Stories

by Toni Mirosevich

Pub Date: April 26th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64009-516-8
Publisher: Counterpoint

A Bay Area writing professor narrates these interconnected stories, emphasizing the importance of memory and shared experience.

"Is it possible you might need to carry something from the past, from what has happened to what will be?" the narrator asks, and this question weaves itself throughout the stories. In nonchronological yet seamless order, the narrator recalls moments of her life, often weaving flashbacks and thoughtful, sometimes humorous or horrifying anecdotes into the main narrative. In “Murderer’s Bread," she and her partner, Stevie, leave the city for a quieter, more conservative coastal town, where they worry about fitting in. Their concerns about homophobia are palpable, yet the couple embraces the neighborhood’s other outsiders, forming an unlikely community despite their doubts. In “As If You and I Agree,” a contemporary pandemic story, the narrator’s anger at two men not wearing masks builds until she surreptitiously curses them with her middle finger while pushing up her sunglasses. The interaction—which occurs as she's taking her morning walk on a path next to the beach—is familiar, latching on to the heightened emotions about public health circa 2020, but what happens next is unique and aptly illustrated. In silence, she unites with her PPE–defying enemies at the rare sight of a humpback whale, breaching "like a huge middle digit,” just like the finger she insulted the men with moments before. Though the narrator's nostalgic tone can sometimes feel forlorn, there's an overarching sense of optimism in her recollections, with beads of wisdom scattered throughout the book. "You can have a life where whatever you catch brings you joy," she says on a pier near her adopted home, reminiscing about the time she saw a man laugh as sea gulls plucked a comma-shaped pink shrimp, perhaps bait, from his fingers—a simple memory that she distills to its moral essence.

A seamlessly written book full of beautiful connections.