Hush little baby now don't you cry

Two nights ago, I dreamed my aunt and her husband came to visit me in a high-ceiling town house in New Orleans. He stood at the base of the stairs in the hallway, and she followed me into the kitchen. We were both young women. And my son was in pajamas next to a carton of eggs. I was crying. My aunt lifted me – up, up, up – by the refrigerator.

And then she and my mother, still young women, were marching through the streets of some unknown town, for a Pride parade. They had a Jersey cow with them, and as the parade circled through my house, I put my arm around the cow and said, “I know it’s absurd, but you’re OK.”

I woke up so upset.

Years ago, when we would stay at my grandmother’s house, I’d wake early and sneak into the living room, lie under the table to listen to my mother, grandmother and aunt talking. When I remember those mornings, they’re always young women. All three of them, laughing. They were different when the men weren’t around. Louder. Silly.

I read a short story by Katherine Mansfield in college that noticed how the women’s voices changed when the men left the house. But it was more than their voices.

Dreams are just stories, broken into pieces. For a while, I tried to assemble these. And then I remembered the rough hair of the cow. How it ignored me. Because it was a cow. In a parade.

It’s true that we contain multitudes. Stories remembered. Stories reinvented. Stories in the midst of creation. The girl under the table, listening. The woman walking to work in the rain, worried about the long cast of childhood. How the shadow creeps in every December.

I know it’s absurd. But you’re OK. You’re OK.

It’s tenuous, I think, to love aspects of relationships: to miss those things that were good, and undamaged, while still acknowledging that too much was not good, not safe, not healthy. I can feel the carpet on my neck. Can see the underside of the table. The wicker chairs between us. We can be a family, broken into pieces. I don’t even have to imagine us younger. That’s where we live together, in the morning light.

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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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