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9781590515297

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781590515297

  • ISBN10:

    1590515293

  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2012-09-11
  • Publisher: Other Press

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Summary

Ida grew up with Jackson and James--where there was "I" there was a "J." She can't recall a time when she didn't have them around, whether in their early days camping out in the boys' room decorated with circus scenes or later in their teens acting older than their years and drinking beers in a hotel room. While the world outside saw them as neighbors and friends, to each other the three formed a family unit--two brothers and a sister--not drawn from blood, but drawn from a deep need to fill a void in their single-parent households. Theirs is a relationship of communication without speaking, of understanding without judgment, of intimacy without rules and limits. But as the three of them mature and emotions become more complex, Ida and Jackson find themselves as more than just siblings. And when Jackson's somnabulism develops into violent outbursts and James is hospitalized, Ida is paralyzed by the events that threaten to shatter her family and put it beyond her reach. Kathleen Alcott's striking debut, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, is an emotional, deeply layered love story that explores the dynamics of family when it defies bloodlines and societal conventions.

Excerpts

Our parents liked to say that the first time Jackson and I met, we concentrated our focus so intently, grew so still, that they worried our little bodies might have forgotten we’d exited our watery beginnings, neglected the duty to breathe in and out. On the floor of the living room we turned our still-soft skin toward each other and blinked before demonstrating our talents in gripping and releasing: my five fingers around his chubby wrist, then his in embrace of mine. They say that the cat, our relative equal in size but a fascinating stranger in composition, strolled up to sniff the crowns of our heads, our full cheeks, but we offered him no attention. My mother and father and Julia, sitting on the couch, all happy with disbelief at the way their endlessly curious infants had quickly adopted such content with a tiny corner of the universe.
   The next part of the story, the one that would echo for decades afterward: Julia moved to scoop Jackson from the floor. I left my quiet behind and howled with such force that the cat, still skirting the carpet, panicked and ran. My mother came to me and attempted comfort; my father, at the door with Julia, shrugged and offered a comment about the volatile nature of young love. They laughed, of course, and agreed to bring us together again very soon. Jackson did not cry, but squirmed from Julia’s restraint and tried to get a clearer vision of me. My wailing gained confidence and rhythm. I refused, even, the draw of my mother’s breast, as if I knew that her body would not be my family much longer, that I would find that elsewhere.

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