Bound by Blue
Sententia Books, 2013
The bleak and searing tableau that is Meg Tuite’s short story collection, Bound by Blue, skillfully navigates the emotionally fraught structure of human relationships. In story after story, the broken, the dysfunctional, and the scarred survivors prove to be at their most eloquent. They breathe in and out their anguish, putting on display what’s left of their embattled lives.
The book’s main ethos is articulated in the opening sentences of “Break the Code,” a powerful story about a woman coming to terms with the death of her mother.
There is something about an unbroken line that makes me want to rip it apart. All horizontal and level and yet one hit of acid and I detect only ripples, bending, rigorous expansion that doesn’t speak the language of the linear.
The same drive to rip apart “an unbroken line” is what fuels most of the stories in this collection, where even the most mundane of human relationships are shown to be rife with inherent disarray. The same can be said for Tuite’s novel-in-stories Domestic Apparition (San Francisco Bay Press, 2011). Bound by Blue is also peopled by classic Tuite characters—characters that were stunted, occasionally made lean and resilient, by their darkness.
“The F Word,” a deftly told tale of how past traumas don’t ever disappear, is the story of the couple Bob and Audrey, who are both beset by their own respective demons. In what can be misconstrued as an attempt to impose order in an otherwise disorderly life, Bob obsessively measures the ingredients he puts in while cooking dishes for the bulimic Audrey. The titular story, “Bound by Blue,” revolves around the exploits of the irreparably broken Edward, who was sexually abused by his mother, while “The Healer” takes on a tormented character’s search for a Brazilian healer, who was featured in a magazine she happened upon at the dentist’s office. The latter story, a hope-filled redemption quest, finished off the collection—a most telling gesture at the end of a succession of stories that unflinchingly tackled alienation, bitterness, and despair.
Sometime in early March, I took in a stray dog. His name is Tam Tam. For nights at a time, I saw him sleeping on the pavement lining the front of the stores right outside my mother's house. He was scrawny, ears riddled with dried pus. He had a putrid smell and lost almost all his fur to demodectic mange. Two-three nights in a row, I brought him food, which he ate like there's no tomorrow, until I couldn't take it anymore and took him in.
This is Tam Tam on day one.
This is him getting acquainted with Poochi Chow, the only other male dog in the house. The other four are females--a four-year-old matriarch and her one-year-old pups. They all take their cue after Poochi, so he had to "approve" Tam Tam first.
This is Tammy boy healing.
And these are the female doggies (Snowy Grace Chow, Kla'atu, Ewok, and Riley Grace Chow), stuffed full during a hot night.
This is Tam Tam now, good as new, except for some scabby areas and stubborn patches of dry skin. Thankfully, what he had was readily treatable and only needed one house call from the vet.
Tam Tam will have his own cage soon, which I'm sure will piss him off for three weeks. Four months from now, the females will go on heat together like clockwork, and I have yet to have Poochi neutered. So, it's going to be cage time for three weeks for the two male dogs, with walks in the afternoon and very early morning.
We have nine dogs now, all of them askals (how we refer to Philippine native dogs and mongrels). Three (Kenyao, Little Girl, and Penny Pie) are in a house where my younger sister lives. Taken right off the streets of Cotabato City four/five years ago, Kenyao was a stray. She's going blind now but still in good shape, with hearing and mobility still sound. This is Kenyao, Snowy, and Little Girl.
And this is Penny Pie.
There's good, strong sun where I am. Have a peaceful Sunday!
Meditations of a Beast
Age of Blight
A Roomful of Machines
We Bury the Landscape