The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

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Book Review: “The Therapy Journal” by Steve Wineman

Therapy Journal


When therapist Becky discovers an unexpected pregnancy, it stirs something deep inside of her. She finds herself thinking back to the life of one of her patients, Lathsamy, who was sex trafficked as a child. Lathsamy is Becky’s foil as she comes to terms with her own childhood pain, which she ignored for so many years.

The Therapy Journal, a novel by Steven Wineman, revels in introspection. Wineman uses Becky’s journey to explore the power of memory and the damage of childhood sexual assault. He breaks Rebecca’s character into several parts: there’s Becky Therapist, who quizzes and soothes her. There’s 8-year-old-Becky, the part of herself that was cordoned off and abandoned after an unsettling childhood incident. And then there’s Rebecca herself. Rebecca’s narration is fairly self-involved, and completely unfiltered. She is wrapped up in her pain, unable to see her situation clearly: to her, her mother is a total narcissist, her father is incompetent and uncaring, and even her best friend is too “self-involved” for Rebecca’s taste. As a reader, it can be frustrating to be stuck inside of Becky’s limited perspective, watching her push away everyone close to her over minor incidents, but Wineman paints an accurate picture of a person in psychic pain.

Reading Becky examine her life and her own shortcomings in such full detail mimics the frustration of a therapist dealing with annoying patient. In one of Becky’s dialogues with herself as therapist, she says, “I mean here I am, mouthing off and acting like a petulant little girl and if you’re good with that, well, great but how is that helping me make this decision?”

However, that indecision is the point of this novel. It feels a bit like listening in on someone’s actual therapy appointments: a little bit uncomfortable, and slow-paced at times, but also morbidly fascinating in a voyeuristic sense. The author puts his background in mental health work to good use, making the problems Becky faces as she struggles to come to terms with her past, feel realistic. Some parts of the novel are more compelling than others (8-year-old Becky sounds more like a sarcastic teenager than the voice of a child), but on the whole it hangs together as the psychological exploration of a troubled character. Anyone interested in seeing an adult woman come to terms with repressed memories and childhood sexual abuse would enjoy reading this book.

 

 

The Therapy Journal will be released October 22, 2017 from Golden Antelope. For more information visit http://goldenantelope.com/index.php/news/41-steven-wineman-s-the-therapy-journal-is-coming-soon

 

 

Poetry by Brandon Hansen

Dear Larry,

The crank of your wrist,
the flex-action of your tendons
pries the brakes from my Chevrolet Prizm,
rains rust on your face
and when you punch the tire
to knock it loose
I won’t take it personally.

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“The Baby,” a short story by Simona Galant

The baby appeared on the doorstep of 12.5 Pleasant Lane at 9:37 in the morning on Friday, while Kate was watching the local news and Andy was in the shower upstairs. There was a loud rap on the front door, and she thought briefly about her roommate Hannah’s excessive online shoe purchasing habit. Kate opened the door and was about to scream but the baby was asleep and she wanted to hear the news so she decided not to.

“Forecasts are looking steadily grim for Poughkeepsie this afternoon— the heat is proving itself relentless, and there have been reports of dogs melting in the streets. To prevent your dogs from melting we advise you to keep them inside. Should you happen to see a dog unattended be sure to remind it of the dangers of 116 degree weather, as they often do not watch the news.”

The baby was in a plastic bin without a lid, one of those Rubbermaid containers from Target with the foldable handles. It was laying on a purple fleece blanket that was folded hamburger-hotdog and was wearing a cop-themed jumpsuit. “My hero wears a badge!” was embroidered in swirly letters. Continue reading

Selections from “Walking,” a poetry collection by Patrick Hurley

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“A Swarm of My Own,” an essay by Leslie Hall

O, the bee drama.

Yesterday I took the day off work. It was supposed to be the day I painted my beehive in preparation for a swarm. Last month, when I was taking a beekeeping class, I had put my name on a swarm list. The swarm list is a list of local beekeepers who want to take custody of a colony that’s gone rogue.

“Gone rogue” is my paraphrase. There are a variety of reasons that bees might up and depart from a hive—this group of bees on the move is called a swarm—to seek a new home.

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Poetry by Lindsay Maruska

City blue Continue reading

“Compulsion,” an essay by Lily Beaumont

Sometimes I wake up slowly, sloughing off layers of sleep one at a time. On those days, there’s a witching moment where I float, suspended, on the crest of consciousness. My thoughts and feelings run on as normal, but no one’s in the driver’s seat.

 

Then, half a second behind, comes the tickle in the back of my mind—the nagging sense of unease. The sense that something is wrong. And that’s when I remember who I am, and what I fear, and the dread settles in my veins like cement.

 

I get up, and the dread rises with me. I go running, and imagine sweating the anxiety out. I shower, and the fear still clings, thick and oily, to my skin.

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“The Beasts That Perish” by Lee Passarella

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“Only Child” by Gale Acuff

One day I’ll be dead before I know it
and then I’ll know it, I guess, only too
well but instead of looking backward I’ll
try to see has Eternity any
forward or ahead to it, somehow I
doubt it now but then I’m only alive
and just ten years old to boot and sometimes

“Four Cereal Bowls” by Donald Hubbard

    After Four Cereal Bowls, my aunt never wrote another word or attempted to, a loss to art bemoaned by the literati of late millennial America.  Unlike Salinger, Aunt Merry did not disappear so much as she entered a prolonged supernova state, attending every opening and event and party in Manhattan.  She snorted coke at Studio 54 and posed nude and did a weekend of prison time after a Vietnam War protest.  

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