cover image Small Pieces

Small Pieces

Micheline Aharonian Marcom, illus. by Fowzia Karimi. Dalkey Archive, $19.95 (98p) ISBN 978-1-62897-450-8

Marcom (The New American) offers a lyrical if underdeveloped collection of prose pieces ranging in length from a few lines to a couple of pages and accompanied by drawings from artist and novelist Karimi (Above Us the Milky Way). An opening artist’s statement written by Karimi sets the tone, at once grandiose and inspired (“My inner world is filled with its own images. And when reading literature, these images flash for an instant in my mind’s eye.... I rarely call my paintings illustrations; to me they are illuminations”). Animals often feature in Marcom’s stories: a robin’s flight makes an “electric rumble” after a woman fights with her lover in “In Winter Again”; a dog relieves himself irreverently on a tombstone in “The Problem with Dogs”; and in “Beauty,” a black-plumed bird lands in a patch of goldenrod. Karimi’s circle-shaped painting of the last, a bird’s bust on a sun-yellow background, also gestures at Marcom’s “Both Beautiful and Strange,” a highlight of the collection that portrays a mother and son observing shadows during a solar eclipse (“Half-moons cover our whole house!” the mother narrates). There are misfires from both Marcom and Karimi (“The Reader,” about masturbation, corresponds with a crude painting of an open book covering a woman’s vagina; both pieces are devoid of humor or sensuousness). Overall, though, the project produces a fruitful dialogue. (June)