In Tatiana Ryckman’s debut collection of flash nonfiction, technology meets the body meets the haze of memory. There is a rawness to it, a knowledge that time filters everything, even ourselves to ourselves, even ourselves to other people. On the last page: “I can’t escape the feeling that even my memories are borrowed.” It is everything, this feeling.
“When my house burned down I got to stay at other peoples’ houses. It’s like a vacation where someone holds a pillow over your face the whole time.”
Making up the pages of this little book is a lot of misery leaking from those disappointing and sometimes embarrassing moments that keep us up at night. “I had been thinking about dying for a long time. Whatever long is when you’re a teenager.” Youth isn’t blushing and pretty, here, but is instead the bloody tissue beneath the skin of ruddy cheeks, the hurt behind the selfie.
“I have an obligation to help the nouns around me achieve their destiny, and it’s good to have purpose.”
Within this living, pulsing tissue is an anti tech debate that isn’t anti tech but is instead anti-loss-of-wonder, anti-knowing-everything-from-smart-phoned-birth-til-death. It is both proud to know about the difference between a “pee hole and a fuck hole” thanks to the Internet, but resentful of the VHS for taking over (just to be swallowed by something else).
“I convince myself that by reading and rereading the scientific names I can learn my way out of my own body; I can stitch my flesh together with this sterile one, where no cells grow into suspicious masses.”
This collection zooms out to the future, justifies itself, justifies its text, and then sucks back in to the smallest, to the cells of fingertips touching massive diagram of a vulva, to the mismatched paint not even trying to cover the old Doritos etched onto the Doritos truck.Deep within this play with tense and time and moment is a longing to not freeze time, but to breathe and have nothing change.Click To Tweet
There is this youthful perspective that really isn’t youthful at all, because don’t we feel it always, no matter how old? Why does technology change with every breath? Why did the reliable train schedule have to change? Why am I still growing? Who am I if the Doritos truck isn’t a Doritos truck anymore, has been turned into something else? Is anything ever anything at all?
“That happiness is uninteresting has begun to depress me. But I enjoy sadness and wonder if that’s not just coming around the other side? And if maybe death is not the price of living but the prize at the bottom of a cereal box. Something cheap and plastic and alluring when viewed through the milky cellophane of our imaginations.”
You can buy a copy of “VHS and Why it’s Hard to Live” from Zoo Cake Press here.