Unsettling and perceptive, these short stories challenge American girlhood in all its delusions, conflicting messages, and treacherous terrain. Wide- and wise-eyed, mysterious girls leave their realities behind for strange and slightly unreal places at the edges of the country. Alternatively they hover over their Midwestern homes in interior worlds of their own creation. The stories in Elegies for Uncanny Girls stand at a boundary where both the girls’ bodies and their tales are either their own or laid claim to by the culture and characters that surround them. A young woman whose body continually shrinks and expands moves to Los Angeles to make a movie about tragic merpeople; bewildered and seeking guidance, a new mom strikes up a conversation with a woman with detachable hands; and spurred on by a new ally who might just be a figment of her imagination, a girl decides she can choose her own friends.
|In lyrical, playful prose Colville explores our innermost irrational urges and jealousies: family life in all its complexities. The characters in these stories are heartbroken and twitching but ready for more, and it is a delight to watch them tremble, puzzle, hope, forgive.Gorgeously terrifying and magically perceptive, Jennifer Colville's brilliant elegies spark the mind and ignite the senses, exposing the secret, hyperreal experiences of girls and young women negotiating the treacherous terrain of a world where others see them as victims or monsters, virgins, nymphets, or soon-to-be spinsters—where they know themselves as miraculous, beautiful and vast, dangerously potent. For uncanny girls the body is not a limit, but a multiverse of thrilling possibilities!Elegies for Uncanny Girls is a smart exploration of boundaries between place and body, with a particular emphasis on gender identity and female sexuality. Colville’s beautiful work with imagery serves to advance the stories and the characters are engaging and compassionately written. Her subtlety of approach brings a welcome and exciting variation to the genre.The only thing more uncanny than these girls is Colville's ability to arrest the heart, turn a phrase, turn an idea.An electrifying debut: wild, wry, wise, and a little terrifying in the bold truths it tells. Colville is a bountiful and precise stylist, honing in on the vital questions with freshness and verve.An extraordinary book whose time has come—no other book takes on the challenges of womanhood as bravely and passionately as Elegies for Uncanny Girls does. In short, I don’t know of another book in our post-millennial era that captures with such intelligence the “uncanny” sensibilities of “girls,” of all ages.Jennifer Colville’s stories hover somewhere between miracle and metaphor, inhabiting a landscape both foreign and familiar. They are stories of motherhood, daughterhood, sisterhood, and the complexity of occasionally taking on all of these roles at once. Don’t let the title fool you—while Colville’s stories may be elegies, her characters remain wondrously alive.
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Table of Contents
When Maggie Thinks of Matt
Jill, or The Big Little Lady
Book Club Guide