A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. One of Library Journal's Best Short Story Collections of 2019. One of Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Tor.com's Books to Read in February.
"Sharp, haunting . . . [Meijer] writes wonderfully of the trap of the self, with its impossible prisons of circumstance and identity, not to mention the perversity of being buried alive, alone, inside a body." --Merritt Tierce, The New York Times Book Review
From the author of Heartbreaker, a disquieting collection tracing the destructive consequences of the desire for connection
A man, forgotten by the world, takes care of his deaf brother while euthanizing dogs for a living. A stepbrother so desperately wants to become his stepsibling that he rapes his girlfriend. In Maryse Meijer’s decidedly dark and searingly honest collection Rag, the desperate human desire for connection slips into a realm that approximates horror.
Meijer’s explosive debut collection, Heartbreaker, reinvented sexualized and romantic taboos, holding nothing back. In Rag, Meijer’s fearless follow-up, she shifts her focus to the dark heart of intimacies of all kinds, and the ways in which isolated people’s yearning for community can breed violence, danger, and madness. With unparalleled precision, Meijer spins stories that leave you troubled and slightly shaken by her uncanny ability to elicit empathy for society’s most marginalized people.
In Meijer's outstanding and disturbing second collection (after Heartbreaker), her fragmented writing style produces an intense and distilled view of isolated moments or, conversely, makes the outrageous or aberrant seem ordinary. The use of short declarative sentences, sparse adjectives, and lack of quotation marks furthers this splintered effect. In "Alice," a father observes and responds singularly to his young daughter's alarming weight gain: "We didn't say Alice was getting fat. She was." "The Lover" charts an unsettling romantic triangle, and features a gun and an unexpected kiss. The hapless hero of "Her Blood" is thrust into an uncomfortably undefined relationship when he helps a woman having a miscarriage in a bathroom stall and apparently feels a stronger connection with her than she does with her boyfriend. Not every story has a dark edge; "At the Sea" follows a father at the beach with his young daughter, later experiencing a rush of dread followed by a pleasant surprise. The strange, sensual, elliptical title story, which concludes the book, is narrated by a rag that starts out being used in mundane, household tasks but ends up being used in a murder. Though reminiscent of Mary Gaitskill, Jean Rhys, and Muriel Spark, these 14 stories bear a powerful style that is Meijer's own.