Spirit! Reveal thyself!
I thought you’d never ask…
Spirit! Reveal thyself!
People are either charming or tedious, I find, so how do you manage to be both?
Spirit… Reveal thyself!
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. Shall I reveal even more of myself now?
What news do you bring us from the other side, Spirit?
What news indeed! I’ve long assumed that with freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy? And now comes a book from the immeasurably erudite Kellie Wells whose very title, God, The Moon, and Other Megafauna: Stories promises such happiness. It takes great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it, and Ms. Wells is clearly one so courageous.
In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody. And though God, The Moon, and Other Megafauna will challenge the indolent reader, they will emerge so much the richer for their efforts. To wit — and perhaps this story cuts dangerously close to the bone for yours truly — I give you this example from “Threnody”:
The Dead, those practical jokers, are never dead for long. After they’ve lain in the grace or urn or crypt for three days, they rise, like bread, warm and fermented, revive as if from a delicious but vaguely disturbing sleep, a sleep deep, deep, and riddled with dream, and they shake out their limbless limbs, reassemble the sodden flesh, and move moodily about, famished wildcats. They remember everything about their deaths, the sputter of breath, the wavering faces crowded above them, which makes them a little cross, as you might imagine. It is not nearly as reassuring to awaken into the airless atmosphere of an afterlife as they’d hoped. (57)
We’re clearly in the hands of a capable poet and equally formidable narrativist. Dr. Wells’ sentences are chewy in the way the perfectly preserved apricot is chewy; the more you turn those morsels over between your teeth the juicier they get.
What did you like about the book, Spirit?
You don’t love a book for its looks, or the reviews, or for the author’s fancy ways, but because when you’re reading that book it sings a song only you can hear. Wells’ book sang to me from nearly every page and every sentence, to be certain, and I suspect so many other readers will soon hear her song. It is a rare book so painstakingly crafted that the pains of its craft remain so well-hidden. Any living reader might indiscriminately throw open the pages, plunge their fleshy finger toward any sentence, and I can promise that sentence will be one worth remembering.
In an era when people know the price of everything and the value of nothing, Wells’ writing reinvigorates the shabby world with metaphorical and spiritual consequence. In her story “The Arse End of the World,” wherein the memorable character of Death is born and falls in love, and ultimately questions the premise of his own demise:
He wondered if, after extinguishing, this world, one of many, would float in some alternate space, where, though it did not exist, it would be allowed to miss things. He wondered if the interior of this particular universe would be coated with the resin of that sentiment the Wolf said humans were plagued by, caked with a residue of love, the only testament to particles having once colluded to assume the shape of this lost world. The next universe, thought Death, would surely construct itself more cleverly than this one had. (180)
I always say that if one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. Kellie Wells’ book is one that actually demands rereading. What you read when you don’t have to determines what you will be when you can’t help it. God, The Moon, and Other Megafauna will certainly help you along in life (and perhaps beyond!).
Do you have any last thoughts to share with us, Spirit?
I remind the absurd gentleman in the equally absurd hat that quotation is but a serviceable substitute for wit…
Kellie Wells, God, The Moon, and Other Megafauna: Stories
Winner of the Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction
Notre Dame Press
Publication Year: 2017