BEAUTY! MESS!

You are 22. Snow on the cars; ice on the streets. She came out of her house at 4 a.m., barefoot, in a nightshirt, and kissed you for hours. She stood on your boots, her hands clasped at your neck, and kissed you.So lithe you could lift her.

You write heartbreak and violence. Poems where the butterflies devour one another.

Stories where the girl is a livid bruise. Nameless. Screaming.

In the mornings, at her house, the woman makes you pancakes, pours applesauce over them. Plays you a song you have never heard:

Think I’m going for a walk now
I feel a little unsteady
I don’t want no one to follow me
Except maybe you

You are 25. Fond of Jameson. Numb. Curious about everything except consequences.

You write murder. You write failure. You write breakups and think you are talking about love.

You open marriages. Get a letter from a wife written in blood.

Still, the woman visits you. You see Ani DiFranco at Bumbershoot, and she sings Untouchable Face. The crowd agreeing FUCK YOU! in dozens of choruses. Hours from now, you’ll learn that the woman is done sleeping with you.

I could make you happy, you know
If you weren’t already

For a while, you hear that song in every bedroom. The women singing it quietly as though they already know the mess you’ll make. But at least the show’s a musical. The most savage lines lyrically rendered.

You write the girl livid. The girl bruised. The girl named.

Loved? Do you write her loved?

Not yet.

First you are sick. Cut open. Masses of polyps sliced away. Reconstruction deep into the muscle.

What if you are the only one who loves the girl? What if you write her and that is love?

You are 29. The child handed to you mid-squall. His furious face beautiful and familiar. You feed him. You lean your face down to his and sing. Sway and sing and mother.

Tell you the truth I prefer the worst of you

You write a girl so loved.

You write a girl so loved.

You write a girl so loved.

You are 35, opening the door for a woman who keeps looking away from you. For days, your whole life has been texting.

There’s a changing constellation

A woman so loved.

You are 44. A woman so loved.

You narrate yourself inside the story. Not the observer of two women stepping into the kitchen for wineglasses. You slip her leather jacket from her shoulders. You lean into her hips.

Maybe they were all love songs.

Maybe there’s no mess without beauty. Maybe you got to look into all of these faces just to hear the singing.

Who am I?
Somebody just tell me that much.

Maybe you wrote yourself well.

Maybe you recognized her in the doorway.

Maybe they were all love stories.

Maybe there’s no beauty without mess.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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