A review of
In a Bear’s Eye
by Yannick Murphy
As the story goes, a young female student once approached the notorious Gordon Lish in the halls outside his classroom at NYU after being told she’d have to wait a year to study with him. She said, “I’m Yannick Murphy, and I’m not supposed to be here.” Lish replied, “You’re in.”
It is for just this sort of boldness that Murphy’s fiction sings. In a Bear’s Eye, the follow-up to last year’s magnificent Here They Come, offers twenty-four pristinely chiseled stories, each between two and nine pages long. The scenarios in these pieces bulge with death: in “Legacies” a sick woman’s children dicker for what they will take when she’s gone; in “The Only Light to See By” a mother’s young daughter obsesses over the crime scene of a family murdered just down the street. But while many pieces of fiction can be encapsulated by their premise, what makes these stories so kinetic is not what they are but how they’re told—the strange meat stuffed to their bones—and the way any probability or expectation is swiped out from under the reader’s feet.
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