Amina Cain’s Creature brings together short fictions set in the space between action and reflection, edging at times toward the quiet and contemplative, at other times toward the grotesque or unsettling. Like the women in Jane Bowles’s work, Cain’s narrators seem always slightly displaced in the midst of their own experiences, carefully observing the effects of themselves on their surroundings and of their surroundings on themselves. Other literary precursors might include Raymond Carver and John Cage, some unlikely concoction of the two, with Carver’s lucid prose and instinct for the potency of small gestures and Cage’s ability to return the modern world to elementary principles. These stories offer not just a unique voice but a unique narrative space, a distinct and dramatic rendering of being-in-the-world.
“Amina Cain is a beautiful writer. Like the girl in the rear view mirror in your backseat, quiet, looking out the window half smiling, then not, then glancing at you, curious to her. That is how her thoughts and words make me feel, like clouds hanging with jets, and knowing love is pure.” — Thurston Moore
“To be among Amina Cain’s creatures is to stand in the presence of what is mysterious, expansive, and alive. Whether these distinctly female characters are falling in and out of uncanny intimacies, speaking from the hidden realms of the unconscious, seeking self-knowledge, or becoming visible in all their candor and strangeness, they move through a universe shaped by the gravitational pull of elusive yet resilient forces—the yin-dark energies of instinct and feeling that animate creative life. It’s here that the intuitive reach of fiction meets the reader’s own quest for understanding, through the subtle beauty of living the truth of one’s experiences in the most attentive and unadorned way possible.” — Pamela Lu
Question: “If you had to think of a motion you’ve made more than any other in your whole life, what would it be?” Response: “I don’t want to be a motion.”
In her debut collection of fifteen short stories, Amina Cain makes ordinary worlds strange and spare and beautiful. A woman carves invisible images onto ice, a pair of black wings appears in front of a house, and a restless teacher sits in a gallery of miniature rooms.
“Neurologically, touching and being touched, whether that’s brushing up against some kind of stalk-like, goldeny things in a tundra or being politely nudged into the back-seat of a Buick Le Sabre, is how a body locates itself in the softest kind of time. For bodies that have experienced a proprioceptive disturbance, touch thus becomes a way of re-building the nervous system. I’m fascinated by the way Cain does this–builds a nervous system–as an act of narrative. For example, when a person, in the deep part of her book, is at their most vulnerable, blurting out banal things to the person they are desperately, secretly in love with and then saying things in their head like “you stupid bloody idiot, why, why, why did you say that?” or somehow stumbling into a forested area above a busy road, on a day when everything else has totally gone to shit they are, by deep chance, met. Something comes towards them and doesn’t go away.” — Bhanu Kapil
Out of print.