Word jumble

It’s the middle of the night. And you are turned toward me in the dark, listening. I am describing the path to you. How much I loved a woman two decades ago. How I kept sort of showing up to something deeply confusing. Like discovering that you have blood on your hands and worry it might be your own. You know, romance in your twenties. How you want things with a fierceness you can barely articulate but aren’t really certain what those things are. The wanting is so much.

I want you.

That last word was always hardest for me.

Most of my life has been a battlecry of I WANT.

I’ll never get this story told the way I mean it.

Do you see? I am more myself because I love you.

I don’t regret the tantrums. The miscalculations. I was headed in my fractions toward something whole.

You told me that you are always a little worried that I will say whatever is in my head. “At any moment, I know you might say anything.”

And I might never get near the telling. I might sidestep into the wrong story.

When you leave the house at 5 a.m., I listen for the door to close, and open again when you remember your keys. I watch for the light of your phone as you navigate the house in near silence. It’s like a love song. Like marriage. To ninja your way through the darkness in silence to let the other woman sleep.

Sometimes she does.

But often she listens for you. Watches the light recede. Feels the dogs resettle the bed around her. Loves you a little harder from this distance.

Once I met a girl whose collarbones hurt me.

A girl whose head I shave, bent over the sink, the razor huddled against her tiny ears.

A girl I think of as mine. And hers. And no one’s.

Marriage is all these things. Leaned into your right hip, the woman playing her piano from stage. It’s midnight and you leave for work in four hours. Urgently alive.

Yours. Mine. No one’s.

I’d write you a love song. And get all the words wrong. And hum a few bars, waiting to get a little closer to it. Once a girl fell into me laughing and I held both of us up. Her eyes darkened and she had her arms around my neck. Her face turned up to mine.

I want you.

Simple. So simple. And not at all what I hoped to say.

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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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