Kirstin Allio is the author of the short story collection Clothed, Female Figure and the novel Garner, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her latest novel, Buddhism for Western Children, will be the inaugural novel from The Iowa Review Series, a new imprint from University of Iowa Press, coming out in the fall of 2018. In this month’s interview, Kirstin Allio and The Common’s editorial assistant Isabel Meyers discuss motherhood, childhood memories, and society’s fascination with religious cults.
My daughter, Mosie, called me early to remind me about the dentist. She was feeding the dogs, and I could hear them whimper and moan as she gratified them. The old dentist had suddenly stopped taking my insurance. I stood watching the lake, its blind surface: here I was, a condo with a view and I’d never had any feelings for Lake Washington.
She had nothing else to say to me. Both of my children—Basho and Mosie—were first-time souls for whom the emotional was alien.
Three of them are shooting hoops in the echo chamber between our house and the neighbor’s, close clapboard and winter-washed cedars walling in the narrow driveway. Someone is the swaggering smuggler of an enormous speaker, and the bass ricochets off the concrete. There’s a wife-beater, boom box vibe even though it’s Spotify. In my small-town childhood only boys without cars had boom boxes, and they slunk down Main Street blasting Metal to distortion, trailing smoke, projecting danger. The boys at the boarding school up the hill, ravaged stoners, were less aggressive but more alienated.
An Almost-Spring Saturday Night, Providence, RI, My Son’s Fifteenth Birthday