The Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: [spoiler alert] by Laura Eve Engel & Adam Peterson

28 Jun

I’ve been working at a YMCA day camp this summer, bustling the kiddos around town–to the pool, to the park, to the library. In my bag each day, I carry a different book–a beloved book that I can piece through, or a journal that I can inhale one bubble at a time, while the swings are max high or when the cannon ball contest is over. Yesterday, it was a past issue of Copper Nickel, a great literary magazine sure, and this issue, number 16, being one I hadn’t got to hang with.

And there it was in the early pages, the snag. Two pieces from Laura Eve Engel & Adam Peterson’s project [spoiler alert] I read over and over. I remember the book holding these pieces, also called [Spoiler Alert], getting big nods and a good home from Dzanc Books back in early 2012. And that was as far as I got with it. Until now.

Until now, when I read these two pieces and went baffled by their placement of you, the you, you there reader you, in these tricky, weird, yet all too real dramatic situations. In the first, available here as a full excerpt, you find out your family is “not your family and they never were.” It unfolds and breaks–dismantles the relationships, ruins the comfort, breaks you in pieces–until even the dog knows the truth, sees you as a total stranger.

Until now, when I read these two pieces and I see how the two both combat one another and hold each other up, together. The first one of the breakdown through discovery, the second of discovery through breakdown, as you see a bear, in a place/time where bears are extinct, where this bear like never before is a miracle.

For years the scientists have been trying to deny the old report because bears are the most missed creatures, and here’s this bear in front of you, proving the existence of bears, doing all the hard work for everyone just by riding that unicycle around.

Until now, when I read these two pieces and then shuffled my feet for the chance to search for more. I found one at Sixth Finch. I found a bunch at The Literary Review. I found one at Diagram. 

And in each, Engel & Peterson create and dismantle worlds, often you and sometimes we as the tragic center, as the weird speck of hope. It’s too bad I’m so late, the chapbook sold out from Dzanc. These really are gorgeous pieces in a stellar project by some great writers. I suggest you do like I’m about to do and beg to the internet for a copy of this book.

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