Verdict: Best New American Voices nominee Nath Jones wields her writing as an anthropological scalpel, dissecting human life and examining it in all of its guts and glory.
Author Nath Jones wields her writing as an anthropological scalpel, dissecting human life and examining it in all of its guts and glory. As a result, the intricacy of her stories parallels the complexity of human relationships both observed and imagined. In this collection we witness the beauty of aging lovers, the magic of a child’s perspective, the blight of sudden change, and the uncommon kindness of neighborhood and community.
Most intriguing are her female characters, who at first appear as delicate as paper roses but in time reveal their own sharp edges, whetted by resilience and quiet strength. These women carry a vibrancy that bursts through the doldrums of their solidly established lives and a hearty sense of self that lends courage to themselves and to those around them. In “The Sandwich” a young woman, her mind muddied by mental illness, attempts to take back her life by first making herself something to eat. “They say if you can feed yourself sufficiently,” the young woman reminds herself, “then you don’t have to go to strange places where the doors are heavier than the walls that ripple, haunted and waterlogged with similar muzzled lives. […] I think about my broken mind and try to let the glue dry. Let it harden while dealing with the coming of the teakettle in the apartment next door.”
Jones is a skilled essayist and a surprising storyteller, tending to circumnavigates the scene while her readers travel through each tale by themselves. In a story entitled “For the Man who Bought Me Coffee and was Shot in the Head Soon After,” the main character’s thoughts rapidly backpedal from the haunting and violent end of a chance encounter at the local coffee shop. Imagination takes a horrifying turn when she muses, “I have seen your smile often tonight lying on the freezer floor.” Smart lines and sudden twists like this seem to be Jones’ specialty.
With her repertoire of sweet, sometimes sad, and oh-so clever vignettes, Nath Jones is well-deserving of her Best New American Voices nomination, and we look forward to reading more of her work!
~Heather McAdams for IndieReader