Words no longer seemed chimeric to Jack, no longer seemed approximations for something else. They were earthbound now, which was what happened when you were sober.
So writes the seer-like Victor Lodato in “Jack, July,” a wonderfully-voiced short story about a meth addict whose binges allow him temporary relief from his demons.
I met a chimera once, in the halcyon days of my youth. As a young monster, I roamed the nether regions of a great many beautiful places – earthbound, you might say, but soaring on the wings of my literary imagination – such as the catacombs of Paris, the Mongolian steppes, Nepalese mountain ranges, and even The New Yorker‘s slush pile (How I miss bandying those stacks of paper about. Using those rejected stories, I made a diorama to commemorate my travels abroad). It was in the Sinai desert where I stumbled upon the Chimera. He was sunning himself on a dune and reading McSweeney’s. Imagine my surprise, dear reader! Instant comaraderie. Msr. Chimera even sported a smart-looking pair of silver-framed bifocals that I’d had my eye on for a long time. He is far more dashing than he gets credit for.
So Msr. Lodato, if you would be so kind, keep this in mind for the next time you publish. My comrade from the Sinai could use a bit of positive PR. I would consider it a personal favor if you would treat him more gently. His gratitude, of course, would be effusive.
If I may, allow me to heap more praise upon this very satisfying story. Witness Lodato’s description of sorrow as Jack’s character experiences it:
The sadness bloomed in his belly. It always started there – a radioactive flower, chaotic, spinning out in weird fractals until it found its way to his arms and legs, his quivering lips. Then the telltale buzz of electricity in his hair.
What a command of sentiment! What poetry! Ah. Thank you again, NY’er editor, Deborah Treisman. You have made my soul a radioactive flower of happiness.