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 Tara Ison writes about her latest story collection, Ball, recently published by Soft Skull Press.
If Ball were a cactus, it would be a cholla, the fuzzy Teddy bear of the cacti world, you just want to give it a sweet hug, but don’t, because it has an evil cactus soul, it will sense your heat and lean toward you all cuddly sweet, but its barbed glochid spines will attack, dig into your skin, and if you try to extricate yourself those barbs will rip out divots of flesh, leave little blood blooms all over your body, because its real goal is to cause you a staining, scarring pain.
If Ball were a ball, it would be a bright primary color hard rubber, seemingly indestructible, surprisingly lethal. For a toy.
If Ball were a pastry, it would be a prune Danish you bought from the old-school bakery, you’d chew and gulp its sugar down, you’d lick your fingers with fat mouth smacks, and only later notice the maroon-fruit-residue trapped under your fingernails and cuticles, exactly like the first time you inserted a tampon and didn’t notice until hours later all those dark blood crescent moons.
If Ball were a wig, it would be a Cleopatra, or Dolly Parton, or pre-Raphaelite cascade, “Virgin European” hair harvested from a person you are not, which you put on as a lark to delude yourself there is an escape from the person you are.
If Ball were a knitting stitch, it wouldn’t be a stitch, per se, it would be frogging, the ripping out of stitches to an again loose scribble of yarn, because it is not perfect, but it is never perfect, and so you are doomed to rip it rip it rip it out all over again, forever.
If Ball were an office supply, it would be a stapler, the reliable, generic-industrial kind of mushroom-beige metal tool you think you can trust, or you don’t think about at all, and so you glance away, and in that moment it staples right thru your rich-nerved little finger tip, its bloodless little coup.
If Ball were a roadside motel, a place to stay as you pass through Blythe or Kingman or Needles, say, it would be a Motel 6, because all Motel 6s take little dogs.
If Ball were an act of remorse, an apology, it would be a glorious, penitent dinner you make to convince your lover you will never, ever, cheat on him again, then you burn the sheets and buy a new bed, then you tattoo his name on your breast, then you pierce your labia and chain them together with a tiny padlocked heart like that of a tween girl’s diary and you give him the key, because you are all his, forever, and while he might say he forgives you, he might even deign to fuck you again, there will still never be enough of your blood.
If Ball were a fish it would be a koi, the size of a Dachshund, with a terrifying tube-hole of a voracious mouth that breaks the surface to lunge at you, and will never, ever, stop lunging for those pellets of food.
If Ball were a children’s game, it would be Musical Chairs, teaching a scarcity mentality to the children, training the children to scramble scramble scramble to get what is theirs, and fuck everyone else.
If Ball were a type of exam, it would be a Multiple Choice test, but the kind where sometimes more than one choice is correct, or sometimes none of them are, it is impossible to ever know that or understand and thus master the strategy, because it is all a giant manipulative mocking mindfuck to make you question your intelligence, knowledge, sanity, sense of self.
Tara Ison is the author of Ball, a short story collection, Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies, and the novels A Child Out of Alcatraz, The List, and Rockaway. She is also the co-writer of the cult film Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. Find out more at taraison.com or connect with her on Twitter at @taraisonwriter and Facebook at facebook.com/taraisonwriter.