A review of

I Live With You

by Carol Emshwiller

Central question: Are you paying attention?
Format: 224 pp., cloth; Size: 5.5” x 8.5”; Price: $14.95; Publisher: Tachyon; Cover illustration by: Author’s husband and legendary SF illustrator Ed Emshwiller; Cover and interior design: Ann Monn; Author’s favorite writer: Kafka (“because he kept everything linked and together and full of meaning”); Words whose spelling that provided longtime difficulty for the author: address/adresse; syrup/sirop; Author’s favorite kind of narrator: completely unreliable; Representative sentence: “I recently heard a writer on the radio say that stories should be like icebergs, most of them underwater.”

Carol Emshwiller’s collection I Live with You takes its title from one of its stories, “I Live with You and You Don’t Know It.” That “You” is an unnamed everywoman who spends too much time at whatever pointless job she’s given up to, comes home to a too-big house, empty save for the inevitable housecat. She could be anybody, me or, well, you. More interesting is the identity of the house’s newly arrived third occupant—that equally inscrutable “I”—a succubus-type of indiscriminate nature who goes unnoticed or at least unacknowledged. “I nibble at your food,” she taunts. “I nap in your bed when you’re at work and leave it rumpled. You thought you had made it first thing in the morning and you had.”

The appeal of “I Live with You” (and, for that matter, of I Live with You) is that none of this seems odd until you’ve left it alone for a while, abandoned the carefully and invisibly drawn completeness of this context for the reality you’ve created for yourself. While inside, though, your attention isn’t drawn toward where it normally would be—that woman, so all-encompassing that you’re bound to find yourself somewhere inside her—but rather toward her shadow. What is she? you’ll wonder later: some kind of mythological fantasy, or a ghastly/ghostly ex-person, or a once-normal driven somehow weird? But What? is beside the point, subordinate to Why?

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Chris Tamarri

Chris Tamarri is a freelance writer living in South Jersey. He’s thinking about writing a graphic novel, something on prime numbers.

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