Baby Geisha by Trinie Dalton | Book Review
A new collection of stories from the author of A Unicorn Is Born.
The images in Trinie Dalton’s fiction carry heavy dramatic weight and, at times, seem poised on the edge of meaninglessness. In “Millennium Chill,” a story in her new collection, the main character is at sea in her house, among an abundance of clothing. While the protagonist cleans out her dressers, a homeless woman spies the bounty of sweaters, and our heroine decides to hand her one. A few days later, the lady is back, asking for bagel chips.
And then, in the middle of the story, we get a dream sequence in which a giant elephant in metal sandals eats spaghetti in the protagonist’s home. When the lady next returns, she brings a shopping list.
Like many of the stories here, the narrative skates between the absurd and prosaic. The elephant in her dream is freighted with meaning and is also the tired cliché elephant in the room: the guilt and cheap emotional reward of giving only slightly to the poor.
In “Pura Vida,” an emotionally blocked journalist travels to Costa Rica to report on healing clinics that allow people to sleep in hammocks with sloths. The story derives all of its tension from the tightly wound journalist, unable to derive joy from her ambitious work life and unable to pinpoint why. Just before a remarkably sweet and unironic encounter with a sloth, she experiences a mild breakthrough: “What really, she asked herself, is so bad? Her feeling of ensnarement shifted slightly to make room for a flash of controlled relaxation.”
Though some of the more surreal and absurd moments in Dalton’s work get the headlines, it’s the quieter moments like these that shout the loudest.