Alphabetique. 26 Characteristic Fictions, by Molly Peacock ff. These 26 stories are crammed with playful whimsey like “A is the genuine article” or R’s play on words with regret and egret. Q has a fairy tale feel as he evolves from foundling to favorite of the Queen. O’s father is Daddy-O.
I’m reminded of Ortega y Gasset’s thesis that viewing a work of art is like looking out a window to a garden. One can either focus on the pane or on the garden itself. The over-the -top use of alliteration forces us to look at the pane, to the writing itself. How will Molly mold this muddle of E words into a cohesive story? But then we focus on the garden. At first we are directed to notice, for instance, that D is both curved and straight. But as the story unfolds we find that this tale is about all sorts of doubles residing in one entity. Not shying away from the grotesque, Molly reveals that D holds in his body his undeveloped female twin who died in utero ensnared in his tissue.
What appear to be diverting baubles surprise us by coming to life: O, at first lassoed by suiters who tried to make her into an 8, discovers her latent sexuality with 0 (a zero). Most moving is the story of M who finds a way to move forward after the death of her mother.