What follows is the seventh in J. A. Tylerâ€™s full-press of Subito Press, a series of reviews appearing at [PANK] over the course of 2012, covering every title available from Subito Press. J. A. Tylerâ€™s previous full-press reviews have covered every title from Calamari Press (at Big Other) and from Publishing Genius Press (at Mud Luscious Press).
In comparison to earlier winners in the fiction category of Subitoâ€™s annual competition, DeBrincatâ€™s Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night is a much more exposition-based collection, leaning far more heavily on traditional beginning / middle / end structures for each of its stories. This, in and of itself, makes Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night a new sort of playing ground for Subito, and a place to pick up new readers who might otherwise be daunted by more aggressively unique voices like Adam Petersonâ€™s My Untimely Death or Andrew Farkasâ€™s Self-Titled Debut. However, this also means that because DeBrincat supports her stories by traditional constructions, her writing is a bit more prone to predictability.
Each of DeBrincatâ€™s five stories in Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night are cleanly setup as conflict / resolution, and follow-through on that approach with keen awareness, ending always with the unnecessary â€œThe Endâ€ for every separate piece. But within her use of these root elements, DeBrincat carefully crafts her language, and often hits on phrasing that is playful and warm, enjoyable to read.
This is my world, I thought, running my fingers along the manicured hedge that separated Precita Park from the street. My world, the expanse of lush lawn. The kiddy yard at the far end, metal swing chains clanking in the breeze of invisible riders, slide rusty at the flat bottom portion where puddles had gathered and dried over the years, monkey bars with rings on a pole. My world, my world, till Iâ€™d studied it all and landed back where Iâ€™d begun.
Also, it should be said that the traditional underpinnings of Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night are really only definable in the book as a whole, when weâ€™ve read all of the stories in this debut collection, since DeBrincat smartly opens with the most experimental and least accessible story, â€œGlossolaliaâ€, a piece filtered through the eyes of a quarantined child who is unable to speak or think beyond fragmentary moments:
Still quarantine & too tired play. Think maybe I got the plague or something, feel so woozy always. Now everyone got to wear the paper mask, everyone mouth & nose wiggle up & down they talk. Look like they got a hand stuck up they throat, like sock puppets.
â€œGlossolaliaâ€ in particular is pristinely rendered and delicately crafted, so even as it rings of Faulknerâ€™s The Sound and the Fury, and we are brought back to our traditions even in this attempted experimentation, DeBrincat should be given credit for artfully carrying this style through her own fully-fleshed and interestingly told story.
In the end, Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night feels like a new story-teller, a fiction writer positioning herself differently in front of the combined mirror of internet and journal publications, of years and varied suits of prose, attempting to find the best approach for her particular pen. Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night is good, solid in its individual pieces, even if slightly haphazard in its modes and the way in which each story moves or removes from the rest.
Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night is available from Subito Press.
Subito Press is a nonprofit literary publisher based in the Creative Writing Program of the Department of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We look for innovative fiction and poetry that at once reflects and informs the contemporary human condition, and we promote new literary voices as well as work from previously published writers. Subito Press encourages and supports work that challenges already-accepted literary modes and devices.
J. A. Tyler is the author of eight books, including the civil war based prose / poetry volume Variations of a Brother War, now available from Small Doggies Press. His recent work has appeared with Diagram, Fourteen Hills, Everyday Genius, and Black Warrior Review and he currently reviews for The Nervous Breakdown and The Rumpus. For more, visit: chokeonthesewords.com.