The Bunny Suit and Other Stories (Stone Hole Press 2017) by Carolyn Michaels Kerr is that book; the one you want to give to everyone you know. These seven, interconnected stories offer the reader companionship and humor on a search for the meanings within intimacy and the losses inherent in its aftermath. Each story offers a space of reprieve, be it gathering around a warm kiln or picking up an old vice or lying face down in a bunny suit, this is an author who knows where we go when we don’t know where to go.
These stories are warm and subtle, highlighting what connects us to one another even during those experiences of life that must be faced alone. This is a wildly successful collection of stories written with skill and depth.
In the title story, The Bunny Suit, we are brought along to discover a strange secret left by a deceased husband. Of course it is his bunny suit, the one he wore all over town, the one his now widow had seen him wear all over said town and never knew it was her husband inside. The narrator explains: “I was about to tell you that the discovery was the equivalent of finding out that your husband has been having an affair, but let’s be honest: it was exactly like finding out your husband owned a bunny suit.”
The narrator climbs into the bunny suit herself and moves around town, just as her husband must have, grappling with the fact that only she and he were aware that they had broken up just before his illness brought them back together for the end. It is the kind of secret that interjects an ocean between ourselves and the rest of life. It is the kind of secret that might make a person want to curl-up in a bunny suit, forever.
This story, like the others, carries us over an awkward terrain of intimacy, loss, and the
unfathomable mystery of life with a welcoming compassion. These characters are at once complex and fully accessible.
In another story titled Andrea Lamb, we are seduced not by Andrea, but by Valerie, our narrator. Valerie is a mature, married woman, an artist who tells the reader she is looking for something more kinetic in her work. All we need are those words to tell us that things are about to get interesting. This is skillful writing and excellent storytelling. We follow Valerie as she longs for and resists the company of Andrea Lamb, a sparkling mirage of a woman upon whom nearly anything could be projected. Andrea Lamb also happens to be rich and openly provides venues for money making and culture indulgence to both Valerie and her husband.
Andrea Lamb is almost a thriller in the sense that we know our narrator is careening toward an emotional eruption that may or may not break apart the very best she has created in her life and it is tense because we know we could be her, we could shake our own foundations just as surely. What if we decide we need something more kinetic? What if we can not resist what we know is dangerous? What happens then?
Carolyn Michaels Kerr has created a collection of stories made highly visual by the brevity of her descriptions and poignancy of the objects she chooses to mention and maneuver. This is an author who trusts her audience with a capacity for emotional creativity and empathy. The result is a neat and well handled series of stories that illustrate how deeply strange it is to be human. Put this book on your shelf because you will want to return to it again and even again.
Meet your fearless publisher: Carolyn Bardos