A review of
I Live With You
by Carol Emshwiller
Carol Emshwiller’s collection I Live with You takes its title from one of its stories, “I Live with You and You Don’t Know It.” That “You” is an unnamed everywoman who spends too much time at whatever pointless job she’s given up to, comes home to a too-big house, empty save for the inevitable housecat. She could be anybody, me or, well, you. More interesting is the identity of the house’s newly arrived third occupant—that equally inscrutable “I”—a succubus-type of indiscriminate nature who goes unnoticed or at least unacknowledged. “I nibble at your food,” she taunts. “I nap in your bed when you’re at work and leave it rumpled. You thought you had made it first thing in the morning and you had.”
The appeal of “I Live with You” (and, for that matter, of I Live with You) is that none of this seems odd until you’ve left it alone for a while, abandoned the carefully and invisibly drawn completeness of this context for the reality you’ve created for yourself. While inside, though, your attention isn’t drawn toward where it normally would be—that woman, so all-encompassing that you’re bound to find yourself somewhere inside her—but rather toward her shadow. What is she? you’ll wonder later: some kind of mythological fantasy, or a ghastly/ghostly ex-person, or a once-normal driven somehow weird? But What? is beside the point, subordinate to Why?
We hope you enjoy this excerpt.To read the full piece, please purchase a copy of the magazine from The McSweeney’s Store.