June 2011

Micah McCrary

fiction

not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them by Jenny Boully

We all know the story of the boy who could fly. He came late one night looking for his shadow, then took the girl Wendy, the boy John and the baby Michael with help from pixie dust and happy thoughts to a world of adventure where they'd never grow old. The children (and even those betwixt-and-between) found a fairy, mermaids, and a pirate with a hook. They needed only to believe that they could fly or fight in order to live happily in Neverland, and as their days were filled with adventure their nights were filled with stories that could come only from Wendy's love of being a mother.

Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them has been described as a dark re-invisioning of J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy, “a “deliciously creepy” swan song from Wendy Darling to Peter Pan in which Boully seethes her text with feelings untouched upon by Barrie's own prose. Did Peter thimble Tiger Lilly, Wendy may wonder; when he loves as ferociously as he fights is it for real or make-believe? Is Tinkerbell's pining justly so because she will only live and die and be forgotten?

And to delve into Boully's work is to dive with faith from the plank -- to jump, with hope and belief and a wish to see what the author has given us: a fresh, imaginative look at a tale as ageless as Peter himself. One must, when reading the work, “dispel every other thought,” as Calvino would say. They must find themselves in a locked room, perhaps on a couch, perhaps in the bath (to dream of mer-creatures), or perhaps almost prostrate in bed with wide and absorbing eyes. They must be willing to fly themselves.

“And what size were mother's thighs?” Boully writes. “Peter, this, even you should know. Try, try to remember. Should I begin then to keep a journal? Let's see. Perhaps first I should write all the stories, all the stories, Peter, that attracted you to me. If I have forgotten the stories, what then, what then? Why, then, you would surely leave. Me. And then maybe a few recipes for making cider and jelly so that the boys might have something other than make-believe. What's that you say, Peter? You don't know A from Z? Very well, very well, then, for me.”

Boully, both a poet and an essayist by experience, knows perfectly well how to weave together the intricacies of chosen words and images with an arc essential to an impacting story, and the key to her prose here lies not in its darkness or its grownup-ness, but rather its careful tiptoeing between the minds and hearts of characters whose surfaces we've known for decades. Peter, a true child-thief, is more mischievous here than even Barrie wanted to show, and his cohort of Lost Boys and Tinkerbell and the Darling children show us what is real to them -- what exists far beyond Neverland, but as sincerely as the sincerest happy thought.

not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them by Jenny Boully
Tarpaulin Sky Press
ISBN: 9780982541678
69 pages