3-Minute Book Review: Katharine Coldiron on Stacy Austin Egan
Three Minute Book Review: Katharine Coldiron on Stacy Austin Egan’s You Could Stop It Here (PANK Books, 2018)
1) What book is this book’s nemesis?
House of Leaves. This book privileges simple storytelling and immature voices. Not in a bad way: these stories showcase voices cusping maturity, tiptoeing up to it, attracted to it like moths to a weak bulb. And the writing is so plain and pure that it offers an air of irrefutability. Where House of Leavestotters toward self-made challenges, these stories sit in beauty, sturdily planted, like succulents. “Needs create voids where we should have more of ourselves.”
2) If this book were a GIF, which would it be?
“Think about how good it would feel to tell someone about your fear and how you carry it with you all the time, a perfect thing that you’re afraid to destroy.”
3) If this book were a movie, who should star in it?
Chloe Sevigny. Not today’s Chloe, and not quite the unformed, fucked-up Chloe of Kids, but the Chloe of Boys Don’t Cry: fragile, with an unusual, splendid face, equal parts naïve and backwoods-hardened. “I like watching the sunset; it makes me feel something inside of myself that I am not afraid of.” Girls are at the center of all four stories here: an unnamed “you,” aged twenty; Jamie, a fifteen-year-old inhabiting her sister’s life until that life frightens her off; Agatha, a teenager working at an ice-cream shop; and Lex, a fifteen-year-old trapped in something that’s sort of consensual and sort of abusive and entirely confusing. Chloe can communicate most of the characters’ stuckness and curiosity merely with her liquid eyes and chameleon voice.
Ignoring a “No Trespassing” sign should feel dangerous, I thought, but it was oddly disappointing how easily we got in; it didn’t feel like trespassing should: no alarm going off, no dogs barking at us from the other side of the fence; we didn’t tear our clothes on anything or sustain any injuries. I felt like breaking rules should have immediate consequences.
When it didn’t, the whole world, everything just felt off, like if you got away with this, something else was coming for you later.
Katharine Coldiron’s work has appeared in Ms., the Guardian, LARB, the Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She lives in California and at kcoldiron.com.