Body

I gained 16 pounds when I was pregnant. And believe me, that was a triumph. I couldn’t keep weight on when I was carrying it. My mom bought my nursing bras, and they were four sizes larger than my regular bras. (Little known fact: I’ve never actually bought myself a bra. I was traumatized by my first bra-shopping experience, and have never participated again. Usually, when asked my size, I will just look expectant and eventually the person asking will guess and I will nod and then we’re done.) Anyway, my point is, pregnancy, like illness, requires you to observe your body as though you’re an experiment.

Breasts, in particular, are fascinating. I thought mine would split. I fully expected them to. Some mornings, I’d sit, waiting for the kid to wake, and watch the veins, and the skin tightening, and think, “It’ll be like a watermelon when you whack it.” And you talk to people about your breasts. About pumping. About latching. About nursing. About how much he eats. How much he keeps down. Breast milk tastes sweet, like rice milk. It’s actually pretty delicious, and the first time I ingested it was accidental and made me feel perverted.

You smell everything. You smell garbage from blocks away. Smells you used to enjoy turn on you. Men’s spiced cologne and any mint toothpaste nearly fucking killed me. I couldn’t focus my eyes to read. The words were blurry. My gums bled all the time. The months after delivery were the only time in my life I’ve had to use lube. It was shocking. I remember feeling like something broke. Like I broke. Whatever me was inside had been consumed by a pack animal. A lumbering, dull-witted creature.

So, you know, who wouldn’t want to do this again? We were talking, today, about making space in my body for another. About cleansing, and acupuncture. About meditation and solace. I am not a stick figure any longer. Not a young woman. And so I have nothing to prove. I know I’m a good mother. I know I am tender and thoughtful and experienced. I have no fears left about motherhood. And I know my partner is even better at it than I am.

Can I make a space as intentionally as I clear away worries? Can I center myself? Focus on my eggs. On my uterus. On my blood. Can I bring another child into this world? And nurse that child against me. And watch our bodies shift. And be as sanguine as I am now. This is the way we are wild, isn’t it? This is the way we transform. Our bodies cradle and rock. Cradle and rock.

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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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