“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares
“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant
“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus
“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction
“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper
To the Country of Knives and Ghosts
I want to move far away, like to France or Prague or maybe Spain. I worry that I will be homesick, that I will feel a little hopeful if I find a McDonalds or a Starbucks down the street from my apartment, that I will need some sort of landmark crutch to keep my bearings. Why don't we want to read about McDonalds or Starbucks in stories? No one wants read about a bank machine or a Cricket store in Newfoundland in The Shipping News. I don't, either. This type of outmoded, outdated, faceless place is where I would like to live, where I will spend half the day roaming the town square in search of typewriter ribbon, where I can't check Facebook because there is no Internet. But do we want that, do I want that? We want the unfamiliar only when the familiar is suspended for a little while, when we can turn on the lights if the dark begins to look like knives and ghosts.
But how will I turn on the lights in Barcelona? How will I get over being homesick? I will get up Friday, Saturday, Sunday through Friday, repeat, and one day, after so many Friday, Saturday, Sunday repeats, more fingers and toes and calendar squares put together, I will wake up and not realize that I am no longer homesick, that perhaps I've felt like this all along, however it is I will feel.
At home, I can just close the book.