Cut music

This morning I attended my son’s musical performance. The kindergarteners filed in wearing their chick/penguin hats (chick on one side, penguin on the other) stood before their xylophones, and proceeded to play 4 songs for us. There was singing, dancing, xylophoning. And then just singing and dancing. (The chick song included breaking from their eggs — “I feel icky and sticky and icky and sticky and icky and sticky. Let me out! Let me out!”) At one point Gavin lost his chick head. And then, once recovered, it was a one-eyed creature with a crooked beak.

Their teacher, a young, blonde, gorgeous woman who actually shimmied during the dance sequence informed us she’d been given her pink slip in our state’s budget crisis, but that she hoped the school would find a way for her to return. Kindergarteners aren’t actually required to take music. This is just a perk of being at a school with money. Because art, apparently, is a privilege. It isn’t something we make. Something we build. We don’t chase it because it reminds us that we’re alive. That life bellows out of us. Art is just intellectuals showing off. Just smarties using words in fancy ways and trying to confuse everybody else.

Fuck you. Fuck you with your ledgers and your number crunching and your desire to make learning a formula to be rattled off and promptly forgotten. Fuck you with your grey walls and your grey minds and your desks jammed together and your kids manufactured like car parts. Fuck you and your fear. Fuck you and your greed. Fuck you and your corporate monkeys.

Those children performed. They moved us. They were moved themselves. And they did it because they loved it. Because the songs made them happy and the xylophone is melodic and their audience applauded. They did it because it’s communal. Because we have spirits and they flutter inside us a little harder when we sing to them.

And all children deserve this. This art. This music. This play. Art is why we have senses. It’s how we gift ourselves to one another.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
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.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
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.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle