The Only Thing I Have

I finished The Only Thing I Have yesterday. I didn’t think I would like it, only because I bought it from the ‘buy this’ feature on my ereader* at night when I didn’t want to figure anything out. I don’t remember the last time I read something I hadn’t read about before.

It’s good. It’s hard to read a book of stories so short, and they all feel a little regular and then aren’t anymore, which is maybe why it’s not exactly great to read all at once. But it’s good. One review said the stories relate because of how easily and with what expertise the characters deceive themselves which I would never have said, but I am generally deceiving myself most of the time.

(*A thing about it– I used to have a kindle but got it wet somehow; it wasn’t too bad but I couldn’t read the words on the top right edge, like I’d dipped the corners of all the books I owned in water. Instead of getting a new one I got a kobo just to feel a little better. I like it but for one thing: it doesn’t tell you how many pages are left in the whole book while you’re reading, just how many pages are left in a chapter. It’s hugely disorienting. I have never not known how soon a book would end.)

“In the Very Near Future” was the best story. It’s a very good story. In the beginning the character goes to a psychic who tells her

I want you to be near trees. At least once a week you must spend some time at the base of a large tree, preferably cedar, and you must get out near the water as much as possible.

I wanted to talk to someone who would tell me to do the same. How stupid. ‘How easily I deceive myself,’ reviews say, I can make it to the bay on two feet. There are trees where I live. That generally has nothing to do with the story, which is maybe about carrying what we’re scared of or that children are terrifying– not themselves but that they have to exist and be kept safe– or about relying on someone else to change your life.

She pushes a finger into the soil and then puts the finger in her mouth and sucks the soil off. She picks the pot up and scoops soil into her mouth. Grains of sand scrape her teeth. She goes to the kitchen and pours a glass of milk and washes down the last of the grit…”Are you going to change my life?” she says to Blue Eyes and moves a slip of hair away from his lax face.

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