IF MY BOOK: Kissing a Tree Surgeon, Eleanor Levine

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 Eleanor Levine writes about her new story collection, Kissing a Tree Surgeon, out now from Guernica Editions.

If Kissing a Tree Surgeon were a mashed potato, it would be an ecclesiastical cloud above the Vatican, which the Pope would carefully analyze to comprehend the Palestinian, Israeli, lesbian, librarian and transgender characters who have occasionally been criticized, kissed, stalked, enlightened and tormented in my collection of short stories. 

But as the potato has historically been a famine symbol, there would be some backlash from the Irish, the Catholic ones, who might accuse me of usurping their icon.

The Catholic Irish are not alone in their monopolization of the potato. The Huguenots, in their Calvinist fervor (they were oppressed in France and escaped to countries such as Ireland) would object to the low-end production of mashed potatoes as a starvation logo. The Huguenots, who originated in France, would prefer Classic French Gratin Dauphinois—a higher-echelon potato dish with garlic-infused cream that is slow cooked to melting perfection—a more amiable but evolved comfort food. 

Kissing a Tree Surgeon people, those who exist in my book, prefer the Irish Catholic’s choice of mashed potatoes to the Huguenot dish with its garlic infusions. In fact, the Irish Catholics, in this sense, are more like the Jews, lesbians, heterosexuals, Palestinians, feminists, nuns, rabbis and neurotic New Jersey adolescents in Kissing a Tree Surgeon.They are down to earth like latkes, that is, potato pancakes, without the romantic entanglements of garlic and butter. You just fry them in Mazola corn oil. Of course, this means that those who were once descendants of the potato famine, the Irish Catholics, as opposed to the Huguenots, are closer to the Maccabees who made potato pancakes from the little oil that was left to light the candles. The Jews, it has been said, fried the latkes with the flame that came from burning the oil for eight days and eight nights, thus ensuring their survival against the Greek Syrians. 

Kissing a Tree Surgeon has the fate of being a somber potato, one which is not besmirched with the apprehensive or haute nature of fancier carbs.

Eleanor Levine’s book of poems, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeriawas published by Unsolicited Press in 2016, and her collection of short stories, Kissing a Tree Surgeon, was recently published by Guernica Editions in Canada. Find out more at https://www.eleanorlevinewriter.com/

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