Three by Tuite is a battle cry, among many other things. As the title suggests, Meg Tuite has broken this brilliant bone in three places: Her Skin Is a Costume, Domestic Apparitions, and Bound by Blue, and left every splintered piece unset, or maybe set incorrectly, like the shoulder that still pops years after injury, still makes you flinch a little when it's touched. While each book portrays different characters, an earthquake undercurrent connects them, each marked by all that's buried struggling to reveal itself. The prose dances masterfully with poetry in places, each line sprinkled in monochromatic glitter, each word chasing the next for the lead in a sharp and well-crafted tumble forward. The result isn't a melody like a song would have, but a tension building to a crescendo—a battle cry.
Her Skin Is a Costume, comprised of micro and flash-length pieces, tells of an on-paper-perfect doll family threaded together by dynamite and all the little explosions between the ties that bind. Sometimes they detonate in ugly arguments, violence, backseat pinches amid standard-issue sibling wars. Other times, they blow wholly apart, requiring some reassembly somewhere apart from the others. In other captured explosions, the subject matter turns to love.
From May I Please Be Excused from Reality:
I can’t see. The homework is a foreign language. I start to shake. Dad pulls my head back with my hair and slaps me across the face.
His hand traces the air around it. I feel the bite, but the fever of infestation is what bores a hole in me, deeper than any wound to the skin.
I run to my room as tears enlarge into oceans. Mom comes in to kiss me. My sisters call him an asshole.
Night descends. I am too tired to cry anymore. Pain will always be another sibling.
From No One’s Ever Heard of Two Teacher’s Pets:
and I lay in bed that night and sob because I am out of the running and still love you,
From Skunk Weed Cookies:
I think about penguins and how fractured their time is on this planet and why “an eye for an eye” isn’t translated into “a rape for a castration” when all of a sudden the music blows a fuse and I am bruised by the hopped up pendulum of my boyfriend’s manic secretions. I can see him belch his bombastic rhetoric and sweat slander out of his armpits and salivate his volcanic erection of soapbox corpulence and I detest him.
Domestic Apparitions, a novel told in stories, examines pivotal moment’s in each relative’s life from their point of view, diving intimately into their own pool of bruising while noting the reverberation waves on unwitting witnesses. Stuffed with dazzling turns of phrase and razor’s edge one-liners, there is beauty and sometimes even humor in the breaking down.
From A Thousand Faces of a Warrior:
My sister didn’t talk like anyone else. She was either a genius or a lunatic, like my brother Nathan, I couldn’t tell, but she had her own special language like no one I’d ever heard before. She’d say things like, “That girl was the tallest building I ever lived in,”or after a date with some guy, she’d say, “I invaded the miserable casualty until he was a cornucopia of brazen limbs.”
From Family Conference:
I turn back to the Family Conference. We are in session. Dad has already recited the various idiocies of his children and wife, one by one. He usually has a clipboard, but today is working off memory. At some point my sister, Stephanie, starts shrieking at him. She is the only one who adds anything to these conferences besides Dad. Then things begin to move.
Dad and Stephanie lunge at each other. It’s like one of those wrestling matches on TV. Dad and Stephanie are hunched over, circling, gripping hair from the other’s scalp.
Bound By Blue is the third and final family portrait in the collection, containing a mix of longer and shorter pieces that splinter, come together, and shatter again as family does. It’s told in puzzle pieces but not the kind that fit together, but rather one with half the pieces missing, replaced by broken glass and beer caps and whatever slides in to fit the groove at the time, then tossed in the box as a placeholder. It is not the warmth of coming together but those broken pieces displayed, called out in only the way that people who, through shared brutality, know you well enough to do. Damage, some generational, some individual, reflected through years of life belonging to both victim and perpetrator, with those roles likely to reverse, inverse, and cave in on themselves.
From Bound by Blue:
Edward’s irises were electric blue. Blue as the sky, the sea, the smug smiles, sinister and smothering. Blue as boundaries that were never bound. Blue as his mother holding tight to her blue-eyed bandit in bed who kept her warm, wet, and distended. Blue as the scurrilous pounding of humans approaching. Blue as the dangling bloodline that left him sixty-years-old, flaccid, alone and methodical in his foul play.
Meg Tuite boldly resists the concept of renewal in this work, of redemption, of a “happy ending,” opting instead to lay bare the darkness and let it speak its testimony. Does that mean there’s no hope? Not exactly. I believe we are all laced with fingerprints of time and experience, all traces of dynamite doll people, all sticky with the patina of little moments that howl louder than the rest of our lives combined. The crushing blows we don’t deserve, the myriad ways we punish ourselves for other people’s sins and, eventually, commonly commandeer them. Ours may be quieter or smaller, pushed into darker corners. For as long as we’re living, there’s hope, even if it’s just tension rising to collective crescendos. Battle cries for a war that may not occur, at least not where you’d look for it.
From Domestic Apparition: I wanted to hug her hell away. I wanted to unhinge her skull and see what it was that kept her alive.