A review of

The Girl with Brown Fur

by Stacey Levine

Central question: Is empathy possible?
Format: 187 pp., paperback; Size: 5" x 8"; Price: $13.00; Publisher: MacAdam Cage; Editor: Khristina Wenzinger; Print run: 4,000; Book design: Dorothy Smith; Typefaces: American Typewriter, Minion; Author’s stunt at a Seattle theater: faked an Austrian accent and dressed as Jungian scholar Marie-Louise von Franz on a dream-interpretation panel; Also available from the author: a spoken word album, released by Kill Rock Stars in the ’90s; Jobs author has held: five years at a sleep/epilepsy clinic and a census taker in rural Pacific Northwest towns; Representative sentence: “Such episodes cause me to feel strange every day.”

How might one become complete? A fulfilled human being? Own a cat and as it ages, clone it. Fly your airplane away from your mother’s illness. Produce an extraordinary amount of sausage. Marry the first woman who walks into your place of business, and if she runs off to Ohio, take her to Rome. Steal an enslaved girl covered in whitish-brown fur. The inhabitants of Stacey Levine’s stories attempt each of these things and more, with no more success than people who have extramarital affairs or people who buy sports cars. Thankfully, Levine’s stories have a refreshing lack of respect for reality. In “And You Are,” a manic-depressive and her former babysitter, Mrs. Beck, decide, “using a few brief, blunt words, to become long-term partners and companions.” Mrs. Beck is consumed by regrets for a wasted life. In a snack shop they meet a short-order cook who’s setting out to do huge things, “and some awful things.” He sends them to fetch mustard. The possibility is exciting to the young manic-depressive, and terrifying to the old babysitter. And while the situation is wacky, one wonders at the fate of all those babysitters who once represented so much authority and potential. Might they be being force-fed in a stadium basement, or, worse, lost in the mediocrity of life?

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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

—Nick Bredie

Nick Bredie lives in Providence, where he recently completed a collection of short stories, and his MFA.

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