IF MY BOOK: Lost Girls, Ellen Birkett Morris

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 Ellen Birkett Morris writes about Lost Girls, her debut story collection published by Touchpoint Press.

If Lost Girls were a sandwich it would be a club, layers of smoked turkey and honey ham between toasted white bread, warm bacon offset by cool lettuce and the tart bite of tomato smothered in mayo. Just when you think you know what you’re getting another flavor comes to the fore, sweet, salty, smoky, cool. 

If this book were a drink it would be a pecan nut brown ale, southern, rich, dark but smooth. That goes down so easy you don’t realize you’re buzzed until it is too late and your top has slipped off your shoulder, your hair escaped from its bun. 

If it were a fruit it would be a peach, smooth and bright and pretty to look at on the outside, juicy and tart on the inside with a hard spiky pit at its center. 

If it were a cake it would be the caramel cake your mother makes once a year for your sister’s birthday. Three layers tall with frosting so sweet you smell burnt sugar in the air for days. The cake egg yolk yellow and the frosting thick and heavy. A cake that leaves you changed, a little high on sugar, but full to your toes and satisfied. 

This book would be a 1937 Chevy Pickup, all curves and sleek grill with headlights that see everything and leather interior that holds the heat of the sun. A car that can hold up to the bumps in the road and still speed down the highway when you need to get out of town in a hurry.    

If it were a dress it would be a cotton print with ¾ length sleeves, cool against your skin in a hot breeze, casual enough for the diner but okay for church, especially if you sit in the back row, which has the best view of the sun through the stained glass and the bowed heads that you watch wondering about their private prayers, their secret sins and what keeps them up at night. 

If it were a song it would be Big Mama Thornton inviting you to sit down on her knee and telling you everything is going to be alright tonight while the harmonica wails in the background and the drum keeps time.  

If it were a house it would be a slanted two-story painted yellow with purple shutters and lace curtains that are so sheer you get a peek at what is inside. The velvet couch and worn rocker. The long wide table where everyone has a place. The crooked stairs that led to hidden cubbies, drawers that hold dried flowers, empty perfume bottles, green sea glass and a fragment of bone. 

Ellen Birkett Morris is the author of Lost Girls. Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, and South Carolina Review, among other journals. She is a winner of the Bevel Summers Prize for short fiction. Morris is a recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council in support of her fiction. Follow her on Twitter at @birkett_morris or on Instagram at @ellenbirkettmorris
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