Sobriety

I like to give things up. It reminds me that nothing owns me. I don’t give a fuck about alcohol. Tea is a fair substitute for coffee. Candy seems pretty sad next to a bowl of raspberries. I prefer less stuff.

But what about my character? What about those crutches I use to hobble around — resources that may have been effective, at one time, but now just keep me in my own way? What about those? My biting tongue, for instance. My impulse to say the most hurtful thing I can think of when I have been injured. For a while, I thought I’d killed that little skill, but my wife would tell you otherwise. (Actually, she wouldn’t tell you otherwise. But it’s true nonetheless.)

I made the mistake, in my youth, of attempting to negotiate relationships with people who don’t share my values. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t work with clients whose morality fluctuates. I don’t have friendships with people I don’t like. I don’t tell you lies to spare your feelings. I am no longer willing to concede to intrusion — to let you pop my bubble to get right up against me. You can take shots from 8 circles out, if you must, but the inner circles are for people I trust. And only for people I trust. There is no sanctuary for assholes now.

This is what sobriety is for: authentic relationships. To separate yourself from impulses to destroy and impulses to relinquish. To separate yourself. To isolate the you that is most. And be that as often as possible.

And this is a life’s work. That’s the part we forget. You aren’t finished. Nobody is finished. We’ve always got work to do, man. We’re always getting started.

5 thoughts on “Sobriety”

  1. nope we ain’t finished yet. My Memere used to have a saying, “Three times around the camp fire” which meant you got to make the same mistake or complain about the same thing three times before you had to burn the damn thing and start on something else – and also the friends who had been listening got to tell you “Enough – we’ve been three times around the camp fire.”

  2. I love this, Jill. The concentric circles image is totally right for me. I don’t apologize for my opinions anymore, not with my friends. Sobriety changes you – makes you less willing to put up with bullshit – your own or other’s. As always, thanks for clarifying. Love you.

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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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