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 Kim Magowan writes about her new novel, The Light Source, out now from 7.13 Books.
If The Light Source were a light source, she would be a gag birthday candle that won’t blow out.
If The Light Source were a recipe, she would be from one of those Top Chef blind relay challenges, where one person starts cooking, and after ten minutes a second person takes over, and then a third, and a fourth contestant completes the dish. The first chef has a concept that she hopes the others will get—that they can decode from her mise en place what she’s aiming for. But that never happens. You see each chef mutter from the sidelines, “Oh my God, didn’t he understand what those diced onions are for!?” “What is she doing, adding dill?” By the end of the relay, they’ve made something strange and incoherent. The judges taste it with bemused expressions and wonder what the hell is up with that dish.
If The Light Source were a campfire game, she would be Telephone.
If The Light Source were in family therapy, the whole session would be taken up with corrections. “That is not what happened. That is absolutely not what happened! You’re remembering it wrong because you were drunk.” “You are so delusional.”
If The Light Source were a scene in a Hitchcock film, it would be when Hitchcock inserts a cameo of himself. It will be some hard to find cameo. Hitchcock’s in profile, playing backgammon, in one of the framed photos on the mantelpiece.
If The Light Source were a Latin verb, she would be desidare (“to miss, to long for”).
If The Light Source were a masterpiece artwork, she would be one of those Where’s Waldo crowd scenes paintings—either Pieter Bruegel’s The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, or the hell scene in Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych. If you look at either of those paintings closely, you would be able to pick out different narrators—the fat man in red pants astride a barrel, or that poor tortured soul diving through a steel ring.
If The Light Source were an item confiscated by airport security, she would be a pair of embroidery scissors. If those scissors were sentient, they would lie in a gray plastic bin with a bunch of confiscated shampoos and water bottles and think, “This is absurd.”
If The Light Source were an amusement park ride, she would be a carousel. From the sidelines you could identify which narrator is the crouching tiger, which one the carriage with room for two, which one the horse with red and yellow flames for a mane.
If The Light Source were a senior superlative, she’d be “Most likely to make trouble.”
If The Light Source went to prom, her date would not be the person she most longed for. But she’d go anyway. She’d dress to the nines—something green and shiny with a plunging neckline, vintage opera gloves—and she’d smuggle in a flask, so at prom, she would finally be brave enough to confront her one true love and say, “What on earth are you waiting for?”
Kim Magowan is the author of Undoing (2018), which won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award. Her fiction has been published in Atticus Review, Cleaver, The Gettysburg Review, Hobart, New World Writing, SmokeLong Quarterly, and many other journals. She is the Fiction Editor of Pithead Chapel. She lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Follow her on Twitter at @kimmagowan>.