To unknow

It would be a terrible thing for our memories to fail. To forget what it felt like when G had hiccups in utero. To forget how he patted my face when I nursed him. To forget the first time I kissed Mary. How small she seemed. How surprised I am, over and over, by how small she is.

Swimming naked at night. Leaping off a roof. The way it feels to pedal a bicycle, to climb a tree, to dance. To flex your muscles. The ache in your lungs when you run in the winter. The unsteadiness before a presentation. To look up in the Sistine Chapel. How close I came to drowning.

What it felt like when my heart broke. To sit with the pieces afterward and repair myself. The first time I heard the Cure. The first time I played guitar. How my life changed when I started to cry without reservation.

The moment I stopped being ashamed. Just let that shit fall away and left it behind. To marry. To vow and kiss and wear a ring. To wake every morning with joy. The dogs skittering. The inevitable Americano. Those beautiful yellow weeds on the hillside.

The thing that cannot be categorized is quality of life. What is the quality of your life? How often do you sing yourself? How often are you still, and grateful?

This morning, Gavin said, “I’m going to give you two kisses.” And then, a moment later, added, “OK. One more.” There isn’t enough of this. Do you see? There isn’t enough. Remember to notice. Notice everything.

3 thoughts on “To unknow”

  1. Thank you. A reminder to remember. So much beauty and laughter to notice and participate in…like the first time I heard my daughter read aloud. She’d been the quiet child sitting in the middle while I read or Barbara read or her brother read. Then, one day she said, I want to read. Without ever reading out loud before she read page after page. It was magic.

  2. I love that! The first time Gavin read, he was impossibly small, and it was like a spell. I held my breath and he finished the entire book and then he read it again from the beginning. Magic is exactly right.

  3. It’s crazy how your memories are so physical. They are sensational. Mine are none of that. My memories are entirely emotional. Solemnity of my mother teaching me a prayer. Chagrin after making a bad toy trade with a classmate. Triumph of finding that I could grind a stick to a point (for a bow) on the sidewalk.

    And just like that I realize how what my parents thought of me was absolute paramount. Shit. And ouch.

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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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