Matthew Mahaney - The surreal contexts of these narratives read like missives from alternate futures, and the surety of their emotional tenor makes the wildly improbable read like our realistic fate
Matthew Mahaney, The Storm That Bears Your Name, The Cupboard, 2015.
It remembers. Or, it is remembered. Secrets thicken in Matthew Mahaney’s The Storm That Bears Your Name, providing spaces through which children slip, spaces in which the once-said or never-said still shiver. Will you know yourself in the new town? Will the branches bear your weight? Winner of the Cupboard Pamphlet’s Fourth-Ever Contest, The Storm That Bears Your Name cracks open the distance between what is, what was, and what will be as if to say, Maybe.
Of the book, Judge Alissa Nutting says, “The surreal contexts of these narratives read like missives from alternate futures, and the surety of their emotional tenor makes the wildly improbable read like our realistic fate. I was dazzled by the ways these stories could unexpectedly pivot on a sentence and open into an entirely new angle of possibility. Every paragraph ended somewhere wildly different than its start, and revealed fresh views along the way that I’d never have guessed to predict. Throughout, I always felt like I was learning something—about the characters, yes, but these upside-down scenarios also act as the perfect lens to spin out a clear, focused picture of human nature.”
Upon entering the StoryPoem town of Mahaney’s strange and beautiful collection, there should be a sign trimmed with the hair of the missing that reads I REMEMBER YOU. The weather here is a heart storm paused in mid-air. Populated with gloom, sunk in a history singed with gospel and faux, no one is really here and if they are they seem to be waiting hungrily for an apocalypse that has already come. I seriously dig this haunting book. It feels like grasping the hem of something large and moving and forever unknowable. It will leave you feeling like the body living inside this garment might be your own.— Sabrina Orah Mark
In The Storm That Bears Your Name there is a game called Every Child You See Has Been Kidnapped. I’m sure you can guess how such a game is played. This redefinition of the moral component of seeing – and the ways in which it biases our basic acts of life creation and meaning-making are at the heart of Mahaney’s endeavor. But it isn’t that he thinks we should or can live in a better world, at least I don’t think so. Instead, he manifestly takes pleasure in the garbled frenzied places where we find ourselves, both those that are fictional and those that are real.— Jesse Ball