Dreams, daredevilry and sex-as-transcendence are the forces that guide the girl-voices in the reversible novellas Auricle and Icebreaker by Alisha Piercy. Narrated in sparse, yet poetic, prose, the reader is drawn into the whittled-down views of Marie and Alice: each its own precise and floating world.
Auricle: Inspired by a real, but unnamed medical subject from the 1850’s, Marie was born with growths on her neck, “other ears” which may or may not provide her with extra-sensory perception. According to her mother, and her doctor, Birkett, with whom she falls in love, they must be cut off. The operation is to take place in Buenos Aires. Wandering and waiting in a foreign city these off-the-map relationships seem to lie just outside the boundaries of what is percieved. Only Marie’s mother dreams outwards past Argentina: to her pen-pal F, and an island house she’s loaned to him for a double-recuperation: of both his health, and their childhood romance.
Icebreaker: Alice’s summer job is to work as a hostess and chambermaid on an icebreaker ship which has been converted to a B&B. She is islanded, both by the permanently docked ship and by her inner world. Like a sailor lost-at-sea herself, her real occupation is to harbour drunken friends in the abandoned rooms of the ship and to will her lover G to come be with her there. Whether he exists or not. Icebreaker circles around the appearance and disappearance of a first love, and explores the hazy territory of what may or may not have happened when we were thirteen. The physical, the trivial, and the traumatic take on divine proportions in these spaces where everything is perceived in precise, ritualistic terms, where the secret to transcendence is not in occupying an otherworld but in living differently in this world.
Two reversible novellas
Conundrum Press (2010)