The Milk Tree
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The Milk Tree is a collection of eight short stories that explore types of people and what makes individuals within these types particular and extraordinary, even as they cling to the stereotypes that limit and define them. In this collection, the reader encounters the bridesmaid, the working mother, the new mother, the crippled woman, the town’s old biddies, the college kid, the involved father, and the man in the midst of a mid-life crisis. The stories access their principal characters through an array of different narration strategies and forms. “Swirling with Grounds” is written from a first-person-plural point-of-view. “When the Bough Breaks” adopts the structure of a blog and extends the story into blog conventions like sidebar elements, comments, and a page-hits tracker. In every story, characters’ imaginations are powerfully present, often hijacking the narrative, creating internal and external conflicts, and compelling behaviors that allow complex individuals to emerge from the situations in which they find themselves. The disabled bank teller in “Once a Runner” observes hands and fashions fantasies based on what she sees. “Beyond the Field of Vision” takes the middle-aged narrator back into his parents’ lives before he was born. “A Fairytale, However Flawed” traces a working mother’s attempts, both real and imaginary, to have an affair. In “The Milk Tree,” the young father creates a birthday party game out of his wife’s breast milk pumping equipment. “HD Immortality,” a story about a boy’s desire to become a reality television star,” and “All That White,” a bridesmaid’s pre-wedding account, conflate reality with desires and hopes with the here-and-now. Throughout the collection, character develops through choice and vision, and life is revealed both as it is being lived and as it seems to be lived. The collision of these parallel lives drives each story in an effort to investigate the power of stereotype in ordering life – and, the even greater power that is accessed when a stereotype is transcended, abandoned, or aggressively resisted.