cover image Rag


Maryse Meijer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-374-24623-5

In Meijer’s outstanding and disturbing second collection (after Heartbreaker), her fragmented writing style produces an intense and distilled view of isolated moments—or, conversely, makes the outrageous or aberrant seem ordinary. The use of short declarative sentences, sparse adjectives, and lack of quotation marks furthers this splintered effect. In “Alice,” a father observes and responds singularly to his young daughter’s alarming weight gain: “We didn’t say Alice was getting fat. She was.” “The Lover” charts an unsettling romantic triangle, and features a gun and an unexpected kiss. The hapless hero of “Her Blood” is thrust into an uncomfortably undefined relationship when he helps a woman having a miscarriage in a bathroom stall and apparently feels a stronger connection with her than she does with her boyfriend. Not every story has a dark edge; “At the Sea” follows a father at the beach with his young daughter, later experiencing a rush of dread followed by a pleasant surprise. The strange, sensual, elliptical title story, which concludes the book, is narrated by a rag that starts out being used in mundane, household tasks but ends up being used in a murder. Though reminiscent of Mary Gaitskill, Jean Rhys, and Muriel Spark, these 14 stories bear a powerful style that is Meijer’s own. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, DeFiore and Co. (Feb.)