In these pages, authors and poets point us to the dangers of refusing to see what is right before our eyes. Editors Viveca Shearin, Zack Dye, and Benjamin Gorman bring you the works of Jessica Mehta, Lydia K. Valentine, Kaia Valentine, Claudine Griggs, Ayodele Nzinga, T. J. Berg, Zach Murphy, Joanna Michal Hoyt, Simon J. Plant, Huda Tariq, Ndaba Sibanda, Sarah Jane Justice, Fable Tethras, Joann Renee Boswell, Eric Witchey, Janet Burroway, Mike Jack Stoumbos, Koraly Dimitriadis, Heather S. Ransom, Kate Maxwell, and Bethany Lee. New York Times bestsellers and those published for the first time, from across the United States and around the world, come together to question, explore, illuminate, and demystify.
FDR told us we have nothing to fear but fear itself. But there is another sinister threat that can be deadly. Denial, when allowed to fester, can have serious consequences. For example, a woman who refuses to see the ugly truth about her doomed engagement can end up trapped in a miserable marriage. A wife who refuses to accept that her husband is unfaithful can find herself confronted by his lover, by her own jealousy, and by her own willful ignorance. Denying women the rights to their own bodily autonomy can cost us our happiness, our sanity, and our lives. Denial can take many forms. And when one isn’t careful, denial can most surely kill.
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Once again, an anthology from Not A Pipe Publishing provides a diverse array of responses to the theme. This time, we see denial in all its forms, whether personal or societal: about trauma, about cancer, about racism, about relationships that aren’t what they appear. About the fragility of freedom, about who belongs in Heaven, about dementia. About education, about “how we’ve always done things.” Some takes are bitter, others almost sweet when it isn’t too late to change course.
Every piece is strong and worth a read. Here are four that made a lasting impression on me:
“Motherhood” by Fable Tethras follows a pregnant teenager as she is detained in a prison/school/hospital for those who would terminate their pregnancies or who are not deemed suitable to raise a child once it is born. It was chilling to watch the protagonist’s choices limited and limited again even as she dreamed of a possible new life after pregnancy.
“The 100th Heroine” by Heather Ransom opens like a slasher movie, then soothes with the revelation that the character is taking part in a theatrical re-enactment of a historical event. Horror returns as more is revealed about this annual event, until the rug is pulled out one more time.
“Oracles” by Janet Burroway is an elegantly told tale of a young woman intellectual in the 1950s, misreading the signs about her own future with the fellow intellectual she hopes to marry.
“Scorched Earth” by Zack Dye layers present-day climate-change denial under a story of domestic disharmony and reconciliation set in a future when agricultural land is burned on a regular schedule to prevent wildfires. Two burns, five years apart, provide the backdrop to one family’s small dramas as they prepare to evacuate.
I received an advance review ebook from the publisher.