cover image The Butter House

The Butter House

Sarah Gerard. Conium, $12 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-942387-19-0

A couple retreats from gloomy Brooklyn to a sunny house down south in the playful and thoughtful latest from Gerard (True Love). It’s spring, and the unnamed girlfriend is on a break from her graduate studies in psychology, while the boyfriend has a fellowship to study bird migration patterns. She spends her time gardening, taking care of stray cats, and getting the couple’s own two cats to acclimate to each other. A moment of inspiration occurs while the couple is watching Moonstruck and the cats are fighting, and the boyfriend comments on how an Italian American family can argue but still get along, prompting the girlfriend to apply a psychology lesson on food-sharing, thus uniting the cats with an abundance of treats. Gerard drops hints of the girlfriend’s desire to rejuvenate her life after a difficult period (the pests and noise of New York City wore her down), and of a downhearted disposition. Nothing is spelled out, but Gerard hints at the girlfriend’s low-grade pessimism in the new environment, where hurricane season is not far off but the porches are “decked in plumeria” and her gardening efforts begin to take root. With precise and lush details, Gerard captures a sense of life’s fragility amid new possibilities. The author’s fans are in for a treat. (Apr.)