Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Jeff Fearnside writes about his new story collection, Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air, out now from Stephen F. Austin State University Press.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were a superstition, 13 would be a lucky number. It might be called 13 ways of looking at the aerodynamics of the heart. Or 13 ways of trying to invoke the gossamer image of our inner demons. Or reconcile the divine feminine with the divine masculine. Or perhaps simply beseech acknowledgement from an unknown and unknowable god.
It might be 13 trick candles being blown out all in one breath and then all spontaneously igniting again.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were a breakfast, it would include cattail biscuits with violet jam, venison steak with wild mountain huckleberry sauce, eggs Benedict, and fried apple fritters. For drinks you may choose fresh-squeezed orange juice (you’ll have to pick out any pits yourself) and brewed black coffee. The wait staff has been instructed to hide the cream and sugar. Don’t bother asking for it.
Apologies for any inconvenience this might cause. Everyone here is actually very pleasant, once you get to know them.
Please feel free to order dessert. I’m not sure my book is a dessert, but if it were, it would be a box of chocolates. An assortment, for sure. All dark. No toffees or nougats, but a couple of cordials. A couple with nuts.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were love, it would be the kind of love that can’t be squeezed out of anyone or anything. Put down that teddy bear. This isn’t a hug-until-your-stuffing-falls-out love. You won’t find it at the tops of any tall towers. The maidens here are needy preacher’s daughters and distracted young professionals, the knights errant disillusioned baggage handlers and lost hunters. We’ll muck around in the low places, stalk game with the wind in our faces, pick thorns out of each other’s paws. These are different kinds of love stories, those that you might remember from when you were very young, when you still talked to trees and never thought it wasn’t normal.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were items in a traditional bridal rhyme, they would be an old pair of hiking boots, a new suitcase with rollers on the bottom, a borrowed lawn mower, a cut-up pair of blue jeans, and (depending on your tastes or addictions) either a silver bullet lipstick tube or a silver flask that could slip under a garter. Perhaps a silver case full of lipstick-stained cigarettes.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were an animal, it would be a cat. An alien cat.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were a book, it would be Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, except that beyond the title it isn’t really like that, though my book does briefly allude to Russians.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were a bell, it would be the bell in Miles Davis’ version (the original version, on the 1956 album Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet) of “If I Were a Bell,” which isn’t a bell at all but rather chiming piano keys.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were footwear, it would be the aforementioned hiking boots (think vintage Red Wing Irish Setter style, not North Face Ultra Fastpack), worn leather loafers, sensible pumps (maroon colored), baseball spikes, or sandals, depending on the weather. In ice-cream sticky heat, my book likes to go barefoot.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were a set of twinned body parts, it would either be a pair of legs, sometimes walking, usually running, and often stumbling, or a pair of arms, pushing against the atmosphere, trying to catch an updraft and spiral into the sky, as occasionally happens in dreams.
If Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air were a time of day, it would be evening. If it were a season, it would be autumn. If it were a wind, it would be the west wind, though not the one in the Greek tradition brought by Zephyrus but rather the one in the Iroquois tradition brought by Panther.
Jeff Fearnside is author of the short-story collection Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2016). His fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including—most recently—Story, Valparaiso Fiction Review, Pacific Review, Fourteen Hills, and Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53, 2014), and earned many honors, including a Grand Prize in the Santa Fe Writers Project’s Literary Awards Program and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission. You can read more about and from him at Jeff.Fearnside.com.