Night Beastby Ruth Joffre
A stunning debut collection by an award-winning young writer, Night Beast follows haunted characters through real, surreal, and speculative landscapes to examine the darker side of humanity
A masterful collection from an important new voice in American fiction, Night Beast is a gorgeously written work of profound originality and vision. These doomed love stories and twisted fairytales explore the lives of women—particularly queer women and mothers—and reveal the monsters lurking in our daily lives: the madness, isolation, betrayals, and regrets that arise as we seek human connection.
Through this collection, readers are taken to places where the sun never sets, where cornfields rustle ominously and sleepwalkers prowl the night. In “Weekend,” the lead actors of an avant-garde television show begin to confuse their characters’ identities with their own; in “Go West, and Grow Up,” a young girl living in a car with her mother is forced to shed her innocence too soon; and in “Safekeeping,” a woman trapped inside a futuristic safehouse gradually unravels as she waits for her lover, who may never return.
With exquisite prose and transfixing imagery, Joffre explores worlds both strange and familiar, homing in on the darker side of humanity. Powerful, unsettling, and wildly imaginative, Night Beast is a mind-bending, genre-hopping debut, a provocative and uncommonly raw examination of relationships and sexuality, trauma and redemption, the meaning of family, and coming-of-age—and growing old—as an outsider.
One of the Lies I Tell My Children (#5)
If they do not clean their room, pretty soon it will be declared a health hazard and systems will be installed in and around the area to prevent the spread of slime mold from the air conditioner to the attic. In the mornings when they get dressed for school my children will have to pass through a decontamination chamber, where I will scrub them and disinfect them, and where they will ask, in their weary voices, “Is this really necessary? The slime mold is our friend.” At night, its black, iridescent fingers will feel around the surfaces of the room, eventually creeping its way onto their pillows and their sheets, and they will encourage it with the sugar water and the potato chips they deliberately smear over their faces. In the beginning, the slime mold will be wary of the offer and retreat every morning when the alarm goes off and I come knocking on their door; then gradually it will grow comfortable with the arrangement and grow stalks inside their nostrils, which will be jellied and metallic, giving the appearance of nose rings or other piercings. When summer arrives the children will have no reason to go outside and will hide in their room, feeding their new mold pet, giving it swathes and patches of their flesh for it to stretch out and grow spores. One day, the mold will take over, and what were once children will become host beds for the oozing, aromatic fungus creeping up between their toes; and because I love them and know how much they love to be dirty I will hook them up to saline drips with glucose and allow the mushrooms to grow in the recesses of their body. It will be a slow process, occurring gradually over weeks and months, and necessitating a great deal of patience and understanding from me. Eventually, when school starts, my children will not be able to get out of bed, so I will stand over them, wishing I could see their hair under all the fungus. I will reach my hand out to stroke them, and in their strange unicellular way the slime molds will reach back, like flowers to the sun.