The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us This Far

Quintan Ana Wikswo. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-56689-405-0
In these stories, author and visual artist Wikswo's juxtaposes dreamy, surreal prose with shadowed, ambiguous, occluded dreamscapes to haunting effect. Her stories defy narrative and instead read like a series of short poems or incantations—heady, euphoric, and full with loss. Her characters are starkly embodied but unanchored to the merciless landscapes they inhabit—from the frozen to the flooded, to prisons literal and metaphorical (their danger evoked by smoky forests superimposed on decaying buildings). In "The Cartographer's Khorovod," a prisoner of war laments the woman he chose to leave behind; in "My Nebulae, My Antilles," a tourist receives letters she wrote to herself with all the rapturous intensity of a lover. Nautical imagery, the cartography of the body, and the Baltic Sea recur in a cosmology of wonder and the unknown that unites these stories, where a woman can carry her mother in a jar ("The Delicate Architecture of Our Galaxy"), dead pilots visit the women they loved ("The Kholodnaya Voyna Club"), and a woman seeks her beloved in a nautilus shell buried deep beneath the ground ("The Double Nautilus"). Wikswo's singular lines strike like the tone of a bell, resonating across pages, while her beautifully composed images echo the surprising twists of language: ghosts "more trout than human," a shadow that resembles a "camel. A monkey puzzle tree. A quail." The stories defy genre or distillation and instead take the reader on a journey where myth, mystery, and the impossible have never seemed more real. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/20/2015
Release date: 06/01/2015
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