Dear Readers, as you know (or are about to know), this past November I started a “Fresh Writers Series” here wherein I spotlight different writers whose work I’ve stumbled across and–for one reason or another–fallen for. Last November, I spotlighted writer Sean Pravica. Now, I’d like to send some sun Jennifer Porter’s way.
“She decided the new wife should ease into the role gradually despite their shared eagerness. They began with sleepover’s. She and the husband had not shared the same bedroom in many years due to his farting, snoring, thrashing, and bed and blanket hogging, and he liked it that way. She knew that if the new wife came late and left early and he caught a glimpse of her, he would not know the difference.”
Porter’s “The New Wife” grabbed me from the first line. Clocking in at 973 words, it’s definitely a work of flash fiction, but still manages to provide a fairly full story–not to mention a chilling vision of a broken marriage. As a child, my parents underwent a divorce that was difficult in its own ways, and that definitely had its share of coldness–its share of the eerie, empty-room chills that inevitably accompany the remapping of identities and roles as apart from each other’s. Many divorce or broken marriage stories fail to capture the true nuances of what such divisions can mean for a person’s identity, routine, and understanding of themselves and their role in the world. And that’s just what Porter does so well here: She captures that shadowy pain of realizing (and rejecting) what one’s role/identity/routine can become (can be reduced to) when shoehorned into a poisonous relationship.
This story first came out in Apeiron Review in April of 2014 and is, I discovered, Porter’s first-ever publication in a literary magazine. (Wow!) Here’s the bio they provide for her:
Jennifer Porter will be graduating in January 2014 from the MFA program at the Bennington Writing Seminars. She was a recipient of a Liam Rector Scholarship. This is her first publication in a literary magazine.
Wherever you are now, Porter, congratulations on the MFA and double-congratulations on coming out with such a strong and impressive debut publication! I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for any future work from you.