Leyna Krow has an MFA from Eastern Washington University. Her work has appeared in Santa Monica Review, Sou’wester, Ninth Letter, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her first collection, I’m Fine but You Appear to Be Sinking, was published earlier this year by Featherproof Books.
The stories in I’m Fine but You Appear to Be Sinking veer back and forth between ones that seem pretty rooted in the real world and ones that are less plausible, at least for the present moment. Do you think of your work as straddling genres? Is genre a valuable concept for your collection? What is accomplished, in your view, by juxtaposing these different modes in a single collection?
I’d call the genre of the collection “domestic fabulism.” Each story has people who are either dealing with a very strange problem in a very normal environment, or the opposite. So it’s this blending of realism with the bizarre. I’m a big fan of magical realism, but I know my writing isn’t quite that. It’s not so much magical as just slightly otherworldly. Things are always familiar, but also always a little off. It’s just that strict realism isn’t all that interesting to me as a writer (though I love it as a reader).…
“We need more guns,” Teddy Koala said, standing back from the array before them.
Teddy was the more aggressive of the pair while Rudolph, a year older, was the planner and dreamer. He was the one who insisted he’d once read an article that had identified the brothers as the most feared killing machine in Australia’s notorious Northwest Territory in the last hundred years.
Teddy liked the idea that they were men to be feared. His only concern was that, if the newspapers were so determined to help run them down that they might use an old photo that cast the damaged right side of his face in a poor light, making him look less like a predator and more like a victim.
Rudolph knew Teddy was right. “What exactly are we missing?”…
It looked like large black bird with broken wings. Jeremy kicked it as it lay motionless in the puddle as we stood under a storefront awning waiting for a bus. Ripples puckered out from it. He reached down to pick it up.
“Jeremy, no,” I said, admonishing him as if he were a dog picking up a stick. “It’s dirty,” I added, as way of explanation. He was four. The world was still a mystery to him and these weekly visits to his mom were just a ritual. A tucked in shirt. Sitting at the back of the bus. The gift shop. Ice cream.
“Um-bella,” he said, as I crouched down to get a closer look. He was right. It was a dilapidated umbrella. Mangled from a gust of wind and hastily discarded. I picked it up and tried to open it. The tracking device that allowed the umbrella to glide open was jammed. I shook the umbrella. Jeremy stepped back and covered his face from the sprayed rain droplets. He giggled to himself.
“Stop. Da. Stop.”
I tried to open the damaged umbrella once more. It flapped wildly in my hands as uncooperative as a tethered bird trying to take flight.…
“I’d love to turn you on.”
AN EXPLOSION OF POSSIBILITIES
In the early 70s, a little after my 10th birthday, I sifted through my parents’ stacks of 50s and 60s Broadway musicals (South Pacific, My Fair Lady), James Bond soundtrack LPs, comedy albums (Bob Newhart and Beyond the Fringe), and one-off oddities like God Bless Tiny Tim.
In that stack was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Putting aside my childhood fear that rock and roll was somehow scary or indecent, I put the record on the turntable and gazed at the densely packed cover.
I was intrigued by the faux-audience sounds that accompanied the title track; moved by the communal sympathy of “With A Little Help from My Friends”; captivated by the throwback music hall charm of “When I’m Sixty-Four,” and transported by the visionary landscapes that unfolded in “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Being for the Benefit of Mister Kite,” and “A Day in the Life.” Having grown up on Lewis Carrol, I found the fantasy elements to be welcoming, familiar. But the doom-laden orchestral rush on the latter track frankly scared me, making me wish I’d chosen to listen when my parents were home.…
It started with you knocking on the door. Steam filling up the mirror, the air. Stale. Collecting the suds under my armpits and letting the hot water sear my skin. Telling you I’m in here. Taking a shower. I hadn’t locked the door, hadn’t thought to, rubbing shampoo in and whistling Something in the Way. You opened the door, slipped your hand in. Flipped the light off and on, off and on. Epileptic flashes as I reached for the bar of soap, told you to cut it out. You left the light off. I heard the door shut behind you, and the way the faint light filtered in, through the shower curtain, soap in my eyes so I couldn’t see it all the way.…