Domestic Apparition – Review by Cindy Zelman

Meg Tuite’s book, Domestic Apparition, struts boldly along the edge of a tight rope woven of hilarity and tragedy. You might laugh and cry in the same chapter, on the same page, in the same sentence. This book is brilliant.

As a reader, Tuite leaves me spell-bound as she explores the lives of a modern family: Dad, clearly a son of a bitch who shows mom the right way to slice a tomato in an astounding metaphor of abuse. Mom, who barely says a word, until Michelle hears a tragic cry come out of her one day over a deep loss. Older sister Stephanie is a rebel, perhaps a lesbian, or maybe just a lesbian to spite mom and dad; and narrator Michelle is a wonderful interpreter and tour guide of the harsh world in which she must navigate, exposing the truths and underbellies of our American family life.

Published in 2011 by San Francisco Bay Press, each chapter of Tuite’s book is its own work of art – ranging from the beautiful prose poem of “Religion,” to the dazzling narration of Michelle-turned-observant- anthropologist in “Family Conference.”  Most of the stories in the book have been published in literary journals and “Family Conference” was a finalist in the Glimmer Train Short Story Contest for New Writers in 2010.

This is a book for readers and writers.

Tuite mesmerizes the reader as we learn, through Michelle’s eyes, the story of her life, beginning at the age of six when she is drafted into the “human abuse” of Catholic schools, replete with wretched nuns assuming men’s names; and through her early adulthood, where, working for a bloodsucking corporation, a true human connection is finally, and unexpectedly, made.

As a writer, this is one of those books (few and far between) where I say on nearly every page: I wish I could write like this. Meg Tuite goes wild with the English language but never loses control. I am enthralled by her abilities to do what she does with prose. She is a brilliant stylist and storyteller. Open to any page and you will find a sentence (usually many) that will knock your socks off.

Here’s one:

“Every night my grandmother limps out of the liquor store with the submissive stoop of the genuflected and the promise of a liturgy to come in a bottle.”

I’m still looking for my socks, which were blown clear across town by that sentence and so many more.  Brava!

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