Genre fiction

The eagles are back at their nest. Or in trees nearby. Whenever they return, the meadow quiets of birdsong, and the doves hide.

What if all our stories are love stories? Once they end, I mean.

I’d stretched the ladder, leaned it against the porch roof, and climbed up. I used a broom to sweep the leaves from the corner, and cleared all the gutters. I’d dragged the whole thing out as long as possible before I approached the ladder again.

In Missouri, we climbed on the shed roof and leapt off. Climbed into the pine trees and then shot put ourselves from the lowest branches. We launched into the air from ramps, and curbs, and boulders.

But I have injuries now. Launching is metaphorical at 44.

So I am afraid to step back onto the ladder. I try several times, and my eyes fill with tears.

On the bottom rung of the ladder, my wife stands and looks up at me. She volunteered to climb onto the roof. Even after she twisted her ankle and fell down the hill while we were clearing the gutters at the back of the house.

“I think maybe if we move the ladder to my left side,” I say, “it’ll be easier for me.” I have no idea if this is true, but I’m hopeful.

“Sure,” she says, and we move it.

And now, out of excuses, I step on the ladder and climb down easily. As though there were nothing to be afraid of. Nothing dangerous.

My wife limps inside and ices her twisted ankle.

I put the ladder away.

We were just cleaning the gutters. Stretching our new ladder to accommodate our task. She fell, injured herself, and would have taken my place on the roof despite her injury. Because she knew I was afraid.

And I went up because she was injured. And because I only need to be careful, not frightened.

I walk through the neighborhood, down to the meadow. The eagles cry to one another. And the meadow rings with their calls.

It doesn’t always seem like a love story. Not at first.

2 thoughts on “Genre fiction”

  1. Sweet Jesus that’s lovely.

    Have you been watching Modern Love on Prime? We binged it this week. A little corny at times, and other times predictable. But when it wasn’t… yes. All our stories are love stories. Even to ourselves.

  2. I haven’t seen it. But I’ve just read the Starless Sea, a meta story that folds in on itself over and over, and I kept thinking, “Is this the issue? We don’t ever quite believe we’re in a love story?”

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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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