Uncertain

I’m listening to Brene Brown read her book, Rising Strong. And it feels like she wrote the entire thing specifically to address issues I struggle with. What I find most compelling about Brown is her honesty about anger. She talks about how often her first response is anger. In our culture, we rarely acknowledge women’s anger. We don’t talk through why we get angry, and what anger is a cover for. What is anger telling us about ourselves?

Anger is most likely to be my response when I feel certain, and righteous. I know ALL ABOUT THIS. I know what everyone’s intentions are, and I know why everyone is behaving like this, and I know what it all means.

I take long walks every day. And as I get older, I’ve realized that those walks are a kind of time out that I give myself to process my experiences. If I’m upset, I have to articulate to myself what I’m upset about. Is it an upsetting thing, or is it a regular thing but I am out of resources to deal with it? Is it something I need to take some time to process?

The block before I get home has a high wooden fence with some totally illegal barbed wire on the top. And every time I get there, I have the same reaction, stolen from one of my favorite Wes Anderson movies, Moonrise Kingdom:

“Was he a good dog?”
“Who can say?”

Is my anger about this real? Is my anger about this worth it? Is my anger about this an old lizard-brain reaction that I’m having because I’m still determined to fix things, and then get disappointed in myself for getting in the way of other people’s stories?

Who can say, man? Who can say?

What the fuck do I know? I know a nap will make me feel better. I know this walk has made me feel better. I suspect that tomorrow, I’ll be surprised by how much time I’ve spent on this issue today. And maybe it is real. And painful. And hard on my spirit. Maybe it’s overwhelming. Maybe there’s nothing to be done, and what I’m struggling against is this sense of helplessness.

Who can say?

I don’t really know anything. I have so many theories, and I have profound curiosity about the world, but I find relationships deeply mysterious. That is the best and worst part.

Who can say? is how I save space for myself to love without knowing. I just don’t know. Are people doing the best they can? Who can say?

I don’t have all the information. Or even most of it. But I suspect we are doing our best with the tools that we have. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

As usual, I’m talking about grace. You deserve some. Especially on those days when you want to burn the world to the fucking ground, but don’t, because your dogs live here, too.

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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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