"Recipes for Endangered Species"

If you haven't read Recipes for Endangered Species yet, go read it. Some excerpts from Matt Dube's excellent review of traci's book:

"Traci O Connor's stories in Recipes for Endangered Species suggest a writer who never did settle but who exists instead in frenzied emotional and physical spaces that, till now, seemed unsustainable, experiences that send us back to bed, twisting sheets against our pliable bodies . . .

"To read Connor's stories, I want you to understand, is to return to that world of permeable existences, where points of view shift and tilt, almost imperceptibly, and bring you to understand identity differently than what you previously allowed for: these disparate voices, these parallax views, the linguistic franks belong together, the stories say, and the way Connor bends and warps language in humid paragraphs, doesn't let you argue . . .

"Take 'Van Gogh Dreams,' the story in this collection I am most familiar with, since I published it back in 2006. The story is, on a surface level, the interior monologue of a woman with a crush on her neighbor so strong that she feels jealous of the stray cat that nuzzles up against the object of him. ...When the stray cat meets its grisly end, it happens off the page, and while the woman at the story's center doesn't seem entirely surprised the cat is gone, she, or maybe it's Connor who decides, doesn't narrate the scene but instead leaves it out. This moment instead transpires in some weird overheated ellipsis where memory is foggy because the reptile brain is in control—it happened in a textual blackout . . .

"The way the stories elude conventional structures of identity, temporality, and disclosure makes them experimental in the truest sense; these are not stories that lend themselves to Freytag's triangle or Genette's levels of narration, at least not in any way I could discern. But even in the absence of traditional markers of academic interpretation, the characters and events bear more than a passing resemblance to people you know—each story generates flashes of recognition that guide you through; I've felt that way, you say, and though you couldn't consciously identify what that feeling was, it carries you through to the next emotional node of meaning. It helps, too, that Connor's sentences pulse and groove, are fully embodied things. Take this passage from the story 'Zombie':

Imagine being, let's say, eight years old: push out pull in, in and out—your feet punch punching the      sky. The winking sun. The sand moving beneath you. Your hands full up with chain. And, at just the right tempo, how you could marry, for a few romantic seconds, again and again, a total stranger. (51)

 "These are adult stories, concerned with the traditional adult concerns of vocation and community-building. Instead of feeling like a voice from the past, Connor's stories suggest a separate path, one all of us were tempted to follow but which few of us had Connor's courage to steadily pursue." (DIAGRAM 10.3)

Jackson's response to Dube's review: Another great review for traci o connor. One of the great things about the great responses she's received from great readers is that every reader seems to elevate a different story. Dube discusses "Van Gogh Dreams" and "Zombie." Another reviewer writes about "Goat" and "The Flying Codona." A peer told us he felt comfortable attending our alma mater after reading "Mrs. Rotham Has a Bun in the Oven, and Plans to Eat It with Butter and Jam." traci's collection is not "A Story, and Other Stories." It is not an anthologizable story and eleven "just-fine" pieces. It's a masterpiece. It's a writer's book. If you can read Recipes . . ., and it doesn't make you want to write, you're probably not a writer (which is fine, I'm not judging, I'm just saying).

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