Spirit Seizures (Paperback)
University of Georgia Press, 9780820341057, 192pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
In these stories by Melissa Pritchard, the past brushes up against the present, the voices of both the sane and the obsessed are heard, and the spirits speaking unbidden through the mouths of some spurn others who desire them most.
Some of the men and women in "Spirit Seizures" dwell contentedly on the surface of life, even making a science or an art of what they see around them. But many of the characters in these stories see--sometimes calmly, sometimes with agitation--beneath life's surface, beyond sun's light. The title story tells of a psychic women, pregnant with her second child, who welcomes over her farmer husband's objections the visits of an older couple desiring a sEance with the spirit of their dead daughter. Spirits are also summoned in "Rocking on Water, Floating in Glass," when a woman consults the shade of Sarah Bernhardt to help her decide whether to leave her refuge in a dark antique shop and reenter the world of the living.
The husband in "Ramon; Souvenirs" recalls his wife's obsession with pueblo culture and her ambitious courtship of the impotent Indian elder who she hopes will initiate her into native spiritual mysteries. But the greatest desire of La BEte, a spectacularly obese model painted by the French impressionists, is to herself become a perfect object, viewed and adored for her form, not her crude essence. Mrs. Grant in "With Wings Cross Water" is painfully isolated from the surface of her family's life by her fears of terminal illness, of what lies beneath her skin. And Mrs. Gump, the reverend's housekeeper, prays and cleans the house furiously, hoping to obliterate all traces of the worldly beauty that distracts her employer and her artist son from the hereafter.
Written with humor but often poignant when they reveal the veins of longing that run through men and women, the stories in "Spirit Seizures" follow the elusive currents that link us to the eternal, the fluid boundaries that wash between love and mourning.
About the Author
Praise For Spirit Seizures…
“All are set apart, a Diane Arbus–like gallery whose personalities remain elusive, receding more completely as their deformities are more cunningly displayed.” --New York Times Book Review
“These are powerful, jolting stories. Melissa Pritchard is one of our finest writers.” --Annie Dillard
“Pritchard possesses a gift for depicting diverse characters, times and locales. . . . Only through self-analysis, and undergoing a jolting experience, do these women, and men, transcend their pain.” -- Ms. Magazine
“It is a rare and gifted writer whose far flung imagination deftly conjures the bizarre and unreal into stories and then, through compelling prose, completely immerses the reader in the world of her creation. Melissa Pritchard is such a writer.” -- Roanoke Times
“An impressive collection of short stories dealing with the confusion, dislocation, and pain of loss. . . . This book is rich in spirit.” --Belles Lettres
“The characters in this remarkable first collection . . . are adventurers, explorers of an uncharted interior wilderness of dreams and visions, possessed by spirits, premonitions of death. . . . A welcome antidote to the minimalist perspective of recent years, she makes her characters come alive.” --Providence Sunday Journal
“[Pritchard’s] stories are generously, excitingly creative. They take hold.” --North American Review
“Pritchard shows a descriptive ability that is uncannily original.” --Chicago Tribune