What a charming little, little book. I don’t know if this would be considered a “miniaturist novel,” but it reminded me a lot of Jane Unrue’s Life of a Star, in terms of its spatial economy. when all our days are numbered… is, essentially, a catalogue of beautiful dreams.
It follows a couple as they live together and love together and, especially, dream together. Everything in the book reads very much like a dream. Even when you begin to suspect (rarely) that a scene is taking place in something like reality, Fletcher surprises you:
I had some fire in a bowl. Where did you get that fire she asked. I can show you if you want. Whatever she said. She said You probably just poured lighter-fluid in the bowl & set it on fire. I shook the bowl & the flame fell up into the air & right back into the bowl. Where did you get that fire she asked. I set the bowl down & I showed her. (27)
I asked her What have you been dreaming about. She said I have been dreaming about waterfalls. About huge torrents of river cascading down a roof or rock formation & falling all over itself to turn into a lake. She said I have been dreaming of obscure cloud formations. I said what does that even mean. She said Whatever. I said No. I’m sorry. I was. I wanted her to go on. I have been dreaming she said Of handguns. Of shootouts. Of men without names on horseback with saddlebags full of sadness. Full of fire. Full of all kinds of things not worth declaring.
I took all of her dreams & I put them in the oven. Then we ate them for dinner. Afterwards we rose above the house. We rose above the sheets of the bed & the paper that had flown around all day in the wind & above the clouds & there were lights in the clouds & I tried to get closer to them but I couldn’t. (28)
This passage (which is a good indication of the entire book’s writing style) demonstrates Fletcher’s dream-reality setting. Right when we think we’ve entered a real setting, with one character describing her dreams to the other, Fletcher writes that her dreams get put in an oven and eaten. The book’s is a world of fantasy. It is very much like a children’s story, written as if by a child. An articulate child with an understanding of minimalist/miniaturist writing style and a penchant for symbolism, but a child still.
From what I can tell, much of the book is concerned, simply, with creation and growth and eventual destruction. These broad concepts are related to everything from human relationships to the four fundamental elements of the world. For example, fire, a very recurrent image in the novella, is often described as sparking, growing larger, and rarely mentioned without water nearby. Also:
I wanted apples to grow. I wanted flowers to grow. I wanted balloons to grow. I wanted very tall trees to grow & for balloons to grow from them. I wanted something incredible to rise up out of the ground & straight into the clouds & for it to devour us all. (43)
I usually get incredibly frustrated by the precious, almost affected, style of writing evidenced in these two excerpts, but this novella, possibly because of its short length, didn’t irritate me. In fact, I often found myself delighted by Fletcher’s sentences, his recurring images and motifs, and his sense of humor.
I can describe the novella no more accurately than Robert Lopez did on the book’s blurb: “part concept album, part epic poem, part twisted fable. A dream & a flood.”
- HTMLGIANT interviews Sasha Fletcher, I win a contest. (“Publisher J.A. Tyler has graciously offered to give away a free copy of the book to whomever leaves the most interesting comment in the comment box below…”):
- A great review of the novella at PANK.