The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets


Title: The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets

Writer: Kathleen Alcott

Publishing House: Other Press

Date of Publication: January 1st 2012

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Skeletons of lovers slumped toward each other in embraces beneath the earth, almost parts of the roots but not quite assimilated, their backs, you could tell, broken. Sad-looking monsters with jugged triangles of teeth, trying to hold the too delicate in their large claws: pretty little boxes ruined, birds dead or dying.’’

Ida tells a simple story. The tale of a childhood in the company of her friends, Jackson and James, her brothers in spirit. They are her partners in crime, in games, in joys and sorrows, during a childhood that Ida must face without her mother, supported by her gentle, wise father. And she falls in love with her best friend. She and Jackson must cope with a reality where demons are lurking, waiting to devour them and tear them to pieces.

This novel spoke to my heart in ways I never thought possible, given the fact that I am not exactly sentimental. Yet, I cried. I cried reading about the places of our childhood that have been fenced off and are now out of access. Either for safety reasons or because of monetary motives, the sites that disappear demonstrate what we love to call our ‘’coming of age’’. Ever the pessimist, I tend to call it our ‘’loss of innocence.’’ There is a deep, moving nostalgia in the story, the memories of long, lazy summer afternoons and golden autumn days, when everything was simple, life waiting to be discovered.

But now you need to help the one you love fight their demons. What can you do when they do not want to leave the world of their sleepwalking, but succumb to it with hungry frenzy?

This is a novel that offers an honest, realistic and respectful look on sexuality and the relationships we form at an early age, only for them to be thwarted once we become ‘’responsible’’ adults.

‘’Officially, I’m Ida, though Jackson has called me I as long as I remember. The symbolism is sickening. Even in the worst of it, even in phases where I spoke almost exclusively in monosyllables and guttural sounds and sat around lost in the worn flannel shirt he left behind, I would never bring this up to anyone: and he calls me I. Like I. As in myself.’’