Stirrup

You have been ill. Your body wrung out like a wash cloth. The parts of your brain where the lights live have closed for repairs.

“I don’t understand,” your boss says, “why we aren’t all in the streets. Why aren’t we all in the streets?”

You are too tired to reply, “Many of us are.” Or, more truthfully, “Because we have to last out this work day in our air-conditioned building.”

“Because we are busy typing our outrage.”

“Because we are consumed with making the same amount of money go on and on.”

“Because we are still reacting to yesterday’s calamity.”

“Because we haven’t recovered from this morning’s news.”

“Because we have been beaten up so thoroughly that holding our phones in front of our faces feels like complicity.”

“Because today I just can’t.”

I am 42 and more contented than I have ever been. Can I tell you that I wake in a room filled with art — women and wolves — skeletons and cemeteries? The push of small dog paws against my legs. To a wife so warm that even her murmurs are musical.

My city is under construction. It doesn’t seem like we have a single road that is intact or unimpeded. The angry man with terrible hair is yelling into the wind again; my entire feed is consumed with his latest catastrophe. But it’s the same smash-up as before: the abuser goes on being abusive.

Outside the 13th floor, I watch the clouds press wherever they are headed.

My child with his trumpet and top hat on stage in the spotlight.

Everything in fractions now as we try to solve for x.

My weariness like a cape. Is it keeping me warm, or making it harder to escape?

I wanted to tell you that I still can’t be hopeless.

Even now, as I hold my shoulders together in what I’ve decided to call a huddle, I feel a little more like laughing. Maybe it’s hysteria. I can only do what I have always done. Shop in local stores. Buy used. Repair. Help wherever I can. Refuse to abandon my joy. I am near tears when I feel the lights switch on, and the chairs come off the tables, and the steps in the kitchen that mean we’re nearly there. We’re a little closer. We are together in this.

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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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