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 Sara Rauch writes about What Shines from It, her debut story collection just published by Alternating Current.

If What Shines from It were an animal, it’d be a stray cat. A little bit feral, but not beyond the desire for connection. Its black fur would be glossy despite the exposure to the elements, and it would run away when you tried to catch it, only to turn back and make sure you followed. One night you’d find the cat inside your house and wonder when it changed its mind. Years later, there it would be, purr-snoring at the foot of the bed, as if it had never belonged anywhere else.

If What Shines from It were a plant, it’d be a thistle. The kind of thing a well-meaning neighbor might suggest pulling from your garden, but no, you love the spiky leaves and the pollen-dusted bees always abuzz upon the strange flowers. Come fall, they burst from pinkish-purple brushes into seeds that are at once earthy and ethereal, so many of them, spectacular and ready to alight.

If What Shines from It were a cup of coffee, it would be served piping hot and unadorned by milk and sugar, inside a hand-thrown mug with a chip in the rim. The coffee would steam and the steam would rise like ghosts, dispersing into the air. The dark surface of the liquid would reflect the world beyond. Where are we: the city, the wilderness? Or somewhere else, somewhere far away from the forced dichotomy of either/or, a place that is yes/and, a place where love moves like a ripple across our bodies and our bodies are 78% water and we are ever attempting to stay afloat. Coffee is a promise, made each day in the act of brewing, and writing is this way too. Coffee is bitter, though it can also be sweet, just like heartbreak, just like stories. 

If What Shines from It were a celestial body, it would be the sun. No, wait, that’s not quite right. The sun is too obvious, too singular. Instead, the book would be a spiral galaxy—long lines of new stars swirling around the densely clustered center. A gathering of stars. Thousands of millions of stars. Yes, that’s just the right concentrated smattering of light.

     
Sara Rauch is the author of What Shines from It: Stories. Her writing has also appeared in Paper Darts, Split Lip, So to Speak, Hobart, and other literary magazines. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Find her online at www.sararauch.com and on Twitter at @SaraRauch.