The Babysitter at Rest

Jen George. Dorothy, a Publishing Project (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-0-9973666-2-4
In this debut story collection, George puts a roster of listless women through trials both dismally familiar and captivatingly surreal. In the title story, a caretaker for a baby who will never grow old has an affair with his father (though he provides her with little beyond “chaffed nipples” and “blisters”) and takes up painting. “My memory is mostly gone, though not entirely,” she assures the reader, and the same could be said of the narrator of “Take Care of Me Forever,” who is constrained to an “armless body cast” and is sleeping with an “artist/doctor” who boasts that he is “dabbling in shamanism.” And of the art student in “Instruction,” who studies under a “Teacher/older man with large hands” at a Queens race track, where the curriculum includes “digging horse graves.” Set among this index of libidinous, male authority figures, the introspection of “Futures in Child Rearing” is a refreshing change of pace. Here, a woman equipped with an “ovulation machine” contemplates naming a baby “Horace” or “You Have Reached Your Destination.” Rather than being bogged down by compulsive sexuality or fickle, philosophical notions like “god is a clock with memory, logging hours,” “Futures in Child Rearing” resonates in the simple way it presents an outlandish mind, as when the narrator muses, “I do not want any son of mine resembling a horse facially.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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