I am sitting on a balcony with a cup of coffee when I open the book. I have been waiting for this moment, a block of time when I can fall into the journey this writer is sure to create. Admittedly there are expectations of her. I have been reading her writing for years, and I have never openly recommended one of her books. All I have ever said to friends and family is she has this incredible knack for a sentence. For me it is the perfect example of economy in writing when a writer packs history, philosophy and a sly grinned humor into six or seven words leaving us with a period, the simplest of punctuation as if it were nothing. Bang for your buck I would say.
Later Kim walks out and takes the seat next to me. She has a Mary Higgins Clark book in her hand and asks me about mine. I tell her it is dark and Detroit and amazing. Then I read out loud the next two paragraphs.
The night before Devil's Night, my brother Josh's ex girlfriend Coley shows up at our door right after midnight without warning dressed like Jackie Kennedy on the day of the assassination, a blood-spattered pink suit and pillbox hat, a fake brain on a string necklace. She's sobbing like a bereaved widow, one who might be desperate enough to crawl around a car, trying to save her beautiful if faithless husband.
"What are you doing here?" she asks. She's looking past me trying to spot Josh as if he were in a crowd. Her amethyst nose ring gleams under the porch light and part of me wants to tear it out and watch her bleed. We were never close.
Wow, Kim says, that is dark.
What about yours? I ask pointing to her read.
Oh, ya' know, murder mystery. I'm only this far into it, she pinches about fifty pages, but seven people have already died. First, this guy kills this girl then the roommate kills this other girl then the prosecutor lives next to someone who kills his wife and kids.
Yowsa, I say, that's quite dark as well. Yet we both agree mine is the darker of the two. The writer of my book never so much as pinches anyone. Well, except maybe her reader.
Dead Girl, Live Boy is not a novella for the light hearted. You will not find butterflies or daisies or puppies or cute little kittens. What you will find is a city dotted with hope as irony and a survival fashioned from those who gave meaning to grit. Maybe we find there are no true heroes or quite possibly we all are because even as irony hope is still hope found in small spaces amongst the characters of this book.
Michelle Brooks paints a picture as real as most any I have seen weaving fiction like Krakauer reporting a story. I feel I have a secret, as if I am living amongst one of the greats, a legendary writer.
A published author once told me to read a book more than once. The first time for pleasure and the second for study. He wanted me to forget the story and examine the structure, to take it apart like it was a mathematical equation. I believe it to be true that we could write a computer program insert words and a bestseller could be born time and time again, a theoretical and marketing combination to generate income. On the other hand there are writers of this world who make the story the equation. Michelle is definitely one of those writers.
Buy the book. You'll see what I'm talking about.
I am so very grateful for writers.