Ivan E. Coyote
Reviewer: B.I. Laureano
One of the things I love about books is when an author can allow me to escape my own reality and step into another one. Sometimes all we need to feel real, to feel seen, to feel like the work we do is important, is read the work of others who have similar struggles. Ivan Coyote’s most recent book of short stories The Slow Fix gave me just that.
I found myself reading each of the almost four-page long stories slowly, gradually, to make them each last longer. Coyote shares with us the most recent years of her life as an artist in Canada and includes conversations with family members, memories of parents, uncles and landlords, which make up the bulk of this volume. I almost felt like a voyeur but was not embarrassed because I knew Coyote wanted me to witness these parts of her life that she shares with us.
Reading about the desire Coyote has to share with youth—that you can be an artist, survive, and be happy—is one that I can appreciate. Often young people don’t hear this message and are expected to go into certain lines of work and find specific careers. Coyote’s collection is one that gives hope and permission to young people to explore art and all its limitlessness.
The idea of limitlessness is also very much a central theme for Coyote especially with regards to gender. Coyote weaves the conversations, socialization, and expectations based on gender in each story, though none as overtly as the story “Imagine A Pair of Boots.” Coyote weaves a beautiful story of boots that we are assigned at birth and must wear for the rest of our lives, and compares this to the sex and gender assigned to us at birth.
Yet, it was not until I read “The Future of Francis,” “Teach The Children Well,” and “Many Little Miracles” that I was convinced books find us! How can an author write stories that really get to the heart of some of our most internal struggles? This is what I felt and believed when I read these three stories. The first is about love. It’s about loving people, behaviors, things, images, ideas, even when we hurt, knowing something suppressed and hurt is being covered up. Coyote writes “I made a silent promise to Francis the day I left Dawson City to always love what he is right now as much as I loved who he was back then” (p 83). The other two stories sum up the idea that even if you reach one person, it is one life that has been saved. One is enough sometimes. TheSlowFix:Stories
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