Twilight, twigs, moss, magic, fireflies…

November 21st, 2012Posted by Nancy

I-Do-So-Worry-Cover-Mailing-639x1024A few words of warning up front: I am in no way impartial about the House of Pomegranates, the wonderful people who run it, and David Keyes’ new collection of short short I Do So Worry For All Those Lost At Sea. The House of Pomegranates Press published my short story collection and the illustrated Chrysanthemum Shadows, the creative team at its heart are dear friends, and I’ve loved David’s work for years.

This new collection features 11 short stories, some linked (or are all of them linked by some mysterious factor we can’t quite grasp?), some published before in one of David’s exquisite limited editions, some of them original to this book. The central core of stories revolve around the family who live in the mysterious The House of Sleep and their neighbours. One of these neighbours is a cartographer who also happens to be a wolf. Another is a large Hare who rents the vacant mansion nearby and takes photographs of the O sisters in stripey tights in the rooftop studio.

Putting Emily to bed, a small nightlight casts fantastic shadows about the warm room. Her angel wings hang upon the door.
“William, I am writing a novel.”
“Are you? Of what?”
“Of the people who live in this house.”
“You and me?”
“No, silly, not us. I’m writing about the other people who live here.”

In the other stories there are ghosts, sisters who flee to Paris, and a mermaid longing for the sea. The writing can be lush and dreamy, with an air of Edwardian elegance, or as spiky and modern as a half-coherent conversation with a lover down a bad connection to the other side of the world. It reads the way David’s artwork (sadly not included in this book) looks – just as his art looks just like the images his words conjure.

Reading these stories is like curling up in the window seat and watching dusk darken across the lawn, watching the fireflies spark against the trees, and listening to your eccentric friends and family talk about art and dinner and the moon, knowing that in a moment you’ll hear the sound of someone shaking up the perfect martini. There is heartbreak ahead – just as there has been pain and loss and grief behind – but for the moment, this moment, everything is beautiful.

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