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May 2009 - Jacquelyn Davis - fiction
I Go To Some Hollow by Amina Cain
These 15 brief stories press the modern reader to examine both their direct and indirect relationship with the external world, through a number of subtle and at other times provocative devices. Amina Cain writes in “Black Wings,” “It is hot and humid and we are reading Lolita. After we read for a while we take a bike ride, and when we are tired we get off our bikes and sit against a concrete wall.” At first glance, this appears to be an unassuming reference to just another book of the past, yet for those who have read Nabokov, we know its literary weight and are sure to be stirred, if not strangely aroused by this juxtaposition of Lolita to the bicycle -- the one tool every blooming adolescent recognizes as synonymous with liberation, movement and exploration.
Cain documents obscure movements and physical rapports of individuals in response to their surroundings, reminding us that there is a larger, webbed system at play. There are moments when Cain's characters appear to revere the existence of this particular order. In this case, it proves effective when Cain simply states what is occurring, what is being felt, without prescribing additional layers of skewed interpretation to a particular circumstance. Cain understands the importance of being forthcoming. For instance, Cain shares in “Black Wings,” “I walk by the ocean and think of nothing but the ocean. I put my hand in the waves and feel nothing but the waves. But it doesn't last. I try to make it last. The water is green and clear, heavy with salt.”
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Cain writes from the position of someone who seeks wisdom -- yet from a safe distance, with mystery. These stories are not obnoxious in the way that a mother's experience shed onto her offspring might be seen as. They are subdued and unpretentious, and though one may not experience the seductive “punch” that one feels from a Mary Gaitskill or Joyce Carol Oates narrative, Cain is onto something -- a less-than-obvious kind of erotic that isn't pushy or desperate, but it's there. There is no need to adopt one cornered conclusion, and it is wagered that Cain would be more content if yours didn't match another's. Though our means may appear similar, must we all really share the same end?
I Go To Some Hollow By Amina Cain
Les Figues Press
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