Over the long weekend, I spent some time hiding from the revel-makers on my minature balcony with Daphne Kalotay's linked collection, Calamity and Other Stories. She's a Grub St. alum, and we here at Word Up are pretty much obsessed with all things Grub. More on that soon.
A New Jersey native, Daphne got her Creative Writing MA at B.U. and lives in Brookline now. Some of the pieces take place in New York, but many in Boston and Boston suburbs. It's such a pleasure to read stories by a writer who can make the setting such a prominent part of her work, especially when it's a place like Allston. If you've ever lived there or lived there now, you know what I mean. One story in particular, "The Man From Allston Electric," completely blew me away. Shitty electrical outlets and wood panneling. That's an Allston apartment for sure. So many stories delve into the actual drama and detail of a hearbreak, but this takes us through the aftermath, the quiet moments when there's nothing to do but finish your paper, lie to people, and stare out the window onto the dirty traffic on Comm Ave.
Here, Daphne explains the Backstory to Calamity (note how she laments the trashing of her best stories once she was close to publishing -- god, fiction writing is painful).
"Rhea never allowed herself to say to her, “What if nothing gets better?” She woke up every morning at seven o’clock in the pale yellow bedroom she had once shared with Gregory, and wished for good news. It wasn’t a conscious wish, more like a vague hope that was there when she awoke and gradually diminished as the day waned. Mornings seemed to hold possibilities, the way the light shone in through the little window across from the bed, tattooing slanted rectangles on the wall where Gregory’s desk had been. His chess magazines, Rhea realized months after he moved out, still sat in a little pile in the corner. One day Rhea would bring them downstairs to the recycling bin; she knew this. But she also knew that she could not do it yet, though the magazine pile was gauzy with dust."