IF MY BOOK: Maybe This is What I Deserve, Tucker Leighty-Phillips

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Tucker Leighty-Phillipswrites about Maybe This Is What I Deserve, his new story collection out from Split/Lip Press.

If Maybe This Is What I Deserve were past its expiration date, you could probably still eat it. It’s more of a “best by” than a “use by” type of book. But I’m not sure how dense the text is, so I can’t say whether you’d be able to pick off the moldy bits and eat without worry. Maybe it’s like bread mold. Not everything can be cheese. Maybe the whole thing’s spoiled and you don’t even know it. If Maybe This Is What I Deserve were tainted, would you still give it a taste? Pinch off a nibble? Scarf it whole? How desperate might you be? How hungry? I can’t promise it will fill you. It might make you even hungrier–it might rattle the cage between your ribs, wake the groaning goat sleeping within. If Maybe This Is What I Deserve were a type of hunger, which do you think it would be? Sometimes I’m up at half-past salvation waiting out a craving. If you’re like me, you’ve heard the phrase sleep for dinner. It used to be my favorite meal. I took a job at a restaurant so I could steal deli meats. I called it my benefits. It’s not healthcare, I’d joke, but it’ll do. If my book committed petty theft, what would it steal from you? A buck here and there, your old iPod (after you got the new one), those earrings you always leave on the windowsill. Maybe it’s better if you just hand it over. It feels good to give yourself to art! Makes you feel like a part of something. On stealing; I used to excuse myself at my grandparents house, slip away to their bedroom, and steal quarters from a Cream of Wheat tin on their nightstand. Sometimes I used the change to buy soda at school. Back then, that was class status, a sixth-period Pepsi. Something to tickle your insides. What if my book were in your gym class, imagine–you could walk the mile together. You could smack a shuttlecock around. You could move your bodies, albeit reluctantly, and not feel any sense of mold within you. Running out of time never feels like running, does it? It’s like walking the mile in gym class. You trudge along, talk to a few people here and there, and before you know it, the bell is ringing and another group has entered, some class a grade below you, laughing and chasing and pushing you along. 

Tucker Leighty-Phillipsis the author of Maybe This Is What I Deserve (Split/Lip Press 2023). He lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Learn more at TuckerLP.net.

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