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.
The Drone Outside
Meditations of a Beast
Age of Blight
A Roomful of Machines
We Bury the Landscape