11 thoughts on “They Don’t Come Home Anymore – T.E. Grau

  1. I – V

    “Not death itself, but what waits for the body afterward.”

    First five bite-size chapters forming mid-teen girl Hettie’s story seen through a prose-sophisticated lens darkly. Threading, at least in mind if not body, passages like sewer outlets, the equally mid-teen but fey girl called Avery gifts Hettie with best-friendship from her toilet throne in a derelict toilet where Hettie finds her. This I sense is their first real engagement together as human beings in their school career so far, and I sense more than I can tell you without spoiling something not yet told to me.
    If you know what ‘fey’ really means without googling it, a word not yet used by this book (if at all), then please proceed. (Even if you google it, some of the definitions the search engine finds are wrong. Be careful.)

  2. VI – IX

    “They passed through the rooms, on their way to somewhere else. But no living took place here. No memories were created, no shared moments.”

    They say grotesque humour and horror in fiction often go together well. And they do. But here we have cerebral wittiness and horror, and they, judging by this book so far, go together even better.
    Hettie’s crush on Avery (not a Sapphic one so much as a self-conscious girly one) stretches between social classes, Hettie’s family being on a lower rung than Avery’s. And it is also a crush between death and life, as well as between social rungs? Avery is suddenly suffering from leukaemia, but that is the last time in this review I will give out a potential plot spoiler.
    The immaculate prose style about the circumstances of the two girls evokes a mind-stretching quality, but the font size it’s printed in has a less expansive effect. Another tension of opposites?

  3. X – XII

    “Supernatural creatures must set the humor bar lower than those burdened with mortality.”

    …indeed, as Hettie treats us to glimpses of her parents’ Bad Movie Night, and of the suburbs in America when compared to its midtown!
    Some brilliant character studies here on her “journey to the hinterlands” – and descriptions of types, too, like underage Goth girls. I think i know the nature of the by-product of Hettie’s quest for vampires, REAL vampires… But do you?
    I feel my brain is sharpened every time I pick up this chapbook. Into a spike?
    Don’t forget: vampires are forever, not just for Christmas.

  4. XIII

    “Critics who dared give less than glowing reviews were savaged online by dedicated internet honor warriors…”

    A whole commercial world of twilight vampires of which this book is an obliquely constituent part and about which it is a satirically witty whole. And Hettie’s thinking outside of her box takes on new dimensions, but whether she sucks inspiration from her own author who is named on the tiny spine or that author sucks it from her, I keep my powder dry.
    This book flows sweetly and sophisticatedly along a line of trip-switches and hilarious booby-traps it has set for itself. I, for one, will not now attend any signing, even if (or especially if!) it is one for this book’s author. We understand the ends of Hettie’s mission but the means remain mean with their meaning. After all, any general brainstorming process keeps its likely eventual results secret in real-time – until the orgasmically revelatory moment of pay-off.
    Part of the tegumented deal, I guess. Fannish flashmobs, notwithstanding,

  5. XIV – XVI

    “The tag was labeled with an ‘L’…”

    Burroughs-type “cut up lines”; a falsehood, a temptation to follow, but whereto and whence? Hettie (Henrietta Wexler or Wexy or Waxy) shrugs like one of the dark’s born-again shruggers she is with, shrugs on a costume in a fitting-room and taken through the destined by-ways of this text, like upon a tiny insect path, towards another stage in her quest, a preachy gathering in Mall-land, a gathering that she skips. I am beginning to believe in this character, her new-found curves and her ability to face off others she needs to face off.
    A “wax seal” on Waxy’s wrist.
    Love the style, the panache, of this book, so far.

  6. XVII – XXI


    “Just mute trees that had seen too much over too much time and an empty city that didn’t care enough to watch.”
    … bracketed by air quotes.
    Hettie meets someone, a sort of saviour with a collapsible cattle prod ostensibly defending her from abuse or bullying, one who promises to further her quest, a figure in nondescript Corporatese, but with a factory without minimum wages, making distressed denim so that people can be seen, I guess, to wear down faster into life than life does itself, let down by parents and peers alike. Avery notwithstanding, remaining Hettie’s fey raison d’être.
    There is so much in these passages that spikes with fresh bright witty expressions deliberately made somehow to seem worn, seasoned or distressed ones. Even rotting ones.

    “…the legs of the M bending in on itself in exhausted surrender.”


    “Age and retelling does not a fact make.”

    I am the first – and doing the second.
    But neither will conjure for you the fact of this novella. In any event, the whole work takes time to filter through the reading artery, still filtering through mine even now, as I stir in my seat after staring lifelessly at the pages passing before my dead eyes, allowing the keyboard to delay the flashing retrocausality of fast typing dulled by “internal antennae that coated every nerve ending”, and external ones like mobile prods, I guess. With bling or not.
    The end of Hettie’s quest is, inter alios, hyper-Ligottian to match that distressed factory, and now a slow hindsight revelation about the fey Avery, not an anti-natalism so much but more a pro-eschatological process of dulled rejuvenation. Striking visions of vampires not as twilight heroines, but as…. but if I retell those visions here, that would be far inferior to you truly having this text directly enter your artery.
    And there is also an inscrutable seemingly discrete chapter that I am still filtering, one that you will need to help me with, help me as Hettie wishfully tried to help preserve her fey soulmate … but any soulmate needs the other one to be a reciprocal soulmate? There are so many questions as to intentions and results still ringing in the antennae of my cerebrum. There is no pretence as adorable as pretentiousness. Meanwhile, the tegument prevails, its promise fulfilled – and promising, I sense, even more in the literary future (if there is a future), sensed with my personal faith in the relative directions of up and down via, at the end of this remarkable book, a “button labeled M.” CoMe hoMe anyMore.
    Strong dark rapture this text, one you will experience fathoming during the process of connection with the dark-Platonic aspirations of an empathic creation like Hettie, whatever your age or gender or height or other healthy size or sickly gauntness, or whatever other epithets you decide to use about yourself.

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