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“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

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Dream a Little Dream of Me

My dreams are full of people those who I have loved, who has passed on—my mother, my two grandmothers, my grandfather, a friend from school who committed suicide back then. They still live on in these gauzy places, and I find myself looking forward to falling asleep at night so I can say hello to my grandfather, in his basement workshop, repairing watches, or my grandmother pulling up cucumbers from the unwieldy plot they created by pulling up the cement stones in their backyard and cultivating the pebbly, nutrient-poor dirt underneath. They do not seem dead here, merely living in a different place, even as I am aware that they never age and their narrative never moves outside of the film strip memories that endlessly loop in my head.  Still, it is a place in which I can control, medicate the pain that I experience in the waking, the real world, where they have left me behind, alone, to make myself, at best, a film reel in someone else’s memory.

Writing is a lot like dreaming, except one has more control over one’s conscious desires rather than the subconscious ones. But I never write the stories of the dead, usually. Who am I to dictate their lives, to decide that my grandmother will finally fly in an airplane, that my mother fall in love again, or that my father will stop drinking and get his life together? Still, I wonder which worlds are the more real—the dreaming, the writing, the “living?” Is it the world that makes one the most happy, where anything one wants could happen, or the “real” world, where one is jerked along, reacting constantly to change and loss and disappointment, knowing even the small alcoves of happiness are merely rest stops on a long, often desert journey?

All I know is that I find the greatest happiness in the words that flow from my fingers, the shadowy, mute planets that populate my dream world. I increasingly bend toward them, my light refracting into these dark, mirrored places, where I can fly without wings or ice skate on the first try or be another person entirely. Or should I beat ceaselessly against the tide in the waking world, hoping to find, in waking, a little dream of you, of me?

Perhaps reality is a combination of the three. We cannot live in our dreams, but we should not cede our power to the waking world, we should not live in a merely two-dimensional plane, our lives on paper. Isn’t it this fourth dimension that writers, artists, musicians seek to achieve when they realize that the world is not enough for them, that time is limited, and so are people, that no one ever gets their own sunset, their own snowfall?


I hope when I die I just never awake from that good dream. Maybe that’s the closest thing to religion I’ll ever get.