“Book Review: So My Mother, She Lives in the Clouds”
Reviewed by Joe Walters
A magic realist short story collection filled with heart, sound, and all the emotion you could ask for.
Christopher D. DiCicco could have one of the most unique voices in indie literature. With his masterfully poetic style, his collection So My Mother, She Lives in the Clouds proves to be a wildly successful study of how, sometimes, only magic can help us come to terms with the weighty emotion of our everyday lives.
In the collection, DiCicco’s characters grapple with their pains somewhat indirectly. True to real life, they seem incapable of approaching their unconscious mind and dealing with the pains that occupy them. Instead, they’ll engage with them the only way that their minds will allow it: through magic. Strap on your jet packs and shoulder pads, because this collection will have you weaving through the heavy topics of loss, love, and lake monsters. And trust me: it’s worth the ride.
In the title story “So My Mother, She Lives in the Clouds,” DiCicco tells the heartbreaking tale of a father and son duo surviving after the woman in their lives leaves them. The story unfolds along with the invisible dragon in the sky, blending in with the clouds. The reader grows curious of whether the dragon will come crashing down, weighing on them just as heavily or not at all as they experience what life is like without the one that they love.
“When I fall into a well, it’s like a hundred-pound bird plummeting from the sky. When I’m at the bottom, nearly dead, I imagine my fall is something more like a hundred-pound feather falling from a bird’s wing instead—slow and heavy, taking its time to get to the ground.”– from “Well, This is Change”
In one of the most unique stories in the collection, “The Worst Thing About Hell is That You Have to Climb Down to It,” DiCicco experiments with the white space on the page. He illustrates (literally) what the descent to hell at the bottom of your basement staircase might look like. As the lead character contemplates taking the plunge, we come to understand that his struggle reaches far beyond just the surreal.
DiCicco experiments with poetic devices all throughout the collection. In “Her Heart a Thundering Steed,” he tells a heart-crushing tale about the heart pounding inside of a young girl’s chest. As the parents investigate what is going on with their daughter, the reader recognizes the truths of what makes her heart tick. DiCicco manages to match the emotional situation of the characters’ pain with the sound of his prose, and I couldn’t be more thankful that it was part of the collection.
Because of its fascinating imagery and evocative language, So My Mother, She Lives in the Clouds could end up being one of the most unique reads you’ll have in a while. It comes highly recommended to fans of Amy Hempel, Angela Carter, and invisible dragons living in the sky.
Publisher: Hypertrophic Press
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