THE FLOATING ORDER
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The Floating Order is a unique and innovative collection of stories. Erin Pringle’s world is filled with the dreamlike, nightmarish narratives of children: children in danger, children at the mercy of their parents, children in all kinds of trouble. Children who continually rise, return, and haunt the pages.
Praise for The Floating Order
'There are no easy answers in The Floating Order, only a sense of disturbance and dread, offset by flashes of beauty. In this way, the book traps life in the 21st century and displays it in all its awful radiance.' Southwestern American Literature
'The stories in Erin Pringle’s The Floating Order focus on images and ideas frequently linked in Western literature—fairy tales and reality, madness and imagination, death and children. Stories such as "All I Have Left" and "Digging", with the repetition of the title phrase in the former and, in both, systematic, but vivid and mythic plots, echo the way confessional poets Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath dealt with what then seemed disparate connections between the madness inherent in fairy tales and childhood experience ... But what makes stories like “Sanctuary” and “And Yet” more compelling is not just the tension inherent in combining poetic devices and language with the third person point of view. Each of these stories focuses on questions that remain baffling to most readers, questions involving the effectiveness of God and prayer, what to feel about deaths that go unnoticed, what happens to make us capable of seeing humor in the most unrelievedly horrifying of circumstances, the death of a child? This last question is beautifully handled in “And Yet,” when a child sees his own dying as a comic incarnation of the quintessential childhood question, “Are we there yet?!"
What is most compelling, in the end, about Pringle’s collection is her use of language, point of view, and in the end, that most basic of storytelling devices, plot, to create stories that go beyond an “edgy” but very familiar fixation on death, madness, and imagination, to becoming ones that are worthy of reflection and remembering.'
Texas Books in Review
'...The prose in The Floating Order repeatedly strains towards the pith and nuance of versified language ... Pringle uses to great effect interruptive, digressive, fragmenting techniques whilst also relying heavily on the repetition of images, phrases and motifs to build up a sense of depth in a short narrative space.' Women: A Cultural Review
'Erin Pringle’s stories are true wonders – a beautiful mix of intimate feeling, thick syntax, and dangerous language.' Michael Kimball
Erin Pringle’s prose scoots from sentence to sentence, invokes an aphoristic, non sequitur hopscotch composition strategy of familiar defamiliarization. It is no mean achievement to sustain such a story-like lyricism over the long haul of a book-length collection. This is a remarkable debut. A keeper that keeps keeping on.' Michael Martone
The stories in Erin Pringle’s first collection possess the charm of fairy tales, the wisdom of poems, the hope of prayers, the weight of eulogies, and the intimacy of letters home. There’s an old soul at the center of this book, an old soul with a passionate, lyrical, exhilarating new voice.' Tom Noyes
'A collection of rather disturbing short stories. "Enjoyed" really wouldn't be the right word. "Impressed" would be nearer the mark.'
Scott Pack, The Friday Project
'This collection contains nineteen stories of childhood, which are full of dark, dangerous and deadly events that return to haunt you long after reading. There are no safe, saccharine fairy tale endings. This is contemporary Brothers Grimm for adults... These stories capture the intensities of experiences, both fleeting insignificant moments in a life and momentous catastrophes... Several months after reading I find that these stories have stuck in the sediment of my mind, only to bubble up to the surface when the silt is disturbed... In the title story, Erin Pringle writes "I save my babies in the morning. The sky very blue that morning. Like tiny hands smearing rivers down walls." This is what words can do. They can be as very blue as the sky and, like tiny hands, smear rivers down walls. "I will say that words are babies, you must correct their sins or the evil takes over and they float away." Only you can save the words in the morning. Smell the pages. Read them too.'
Pauline Masurel, The Short Review.
For the entire review, click here.
For a review on the Vulpes Libris literary blog, please click here
For a review on The Reading Experience click here: 'An impressive set of stories. It is certainly not an ordinary first work of "literary fiction" and for that reason alone commends itself to readers looking for more than the pallid and derivative exercises in convention most such fiction has to offer.'
About Erin Pringle
Originally from the Midwest, Erin Pringle has an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University. Erin’s work has been widely anthologised. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, named a ‘Best American Notable Non-required Reading of 2007’, and was short-listed for the 2007 Charles Pick Fellowship.
An extract from The Floating Order
Nurse says I cannot leave the darkened room. She says I have the measles and could go blind if I see the sun. She says blind is like the dark. But Nurse lies. Everyone knows when you stare into the sun, it traps inside your eyes and all you see is light. Nurse touches the drapes every time she’s in the room. As if they’ll fly open and blind me if she doesn’t. Nurse says do not pull the golden drapery cord because behind the drapes is a large window that looks into the garden and sun.
I used to wish for my little brother to visit and peek through the drapes and tell me what is truly there because Nurse says there is a garden full of yellow and pink snapdragons and a little path where brown spotted rabbits jump and dance. But I don’t wish for him anymore. He would be scared to come in here now. It is much darker.
Nurse pretends it is not so dark. I test her by asking for my little brother. Instead of saying he can’t come because he’s scared, she says he will get the measles. I laugh and say then he wouldn’t be scared of the dark anymore. Nurse says I’m a cruel little girl to wish death on loved ones. She doesn’t know I’m onto her game.
Nurse would win if my little brother were in this bed. He doesn’t suspect that adults lie to children. That they lie because they miss playing tiddlywinks so they make up their own games, but you have to figure out the rules to beat them. Rules such as, there is a window and garden and sun. Rules such as, you will go blind. Don’t pull the golden cord.
Nurse is afraid of losing, which is why she’s stopped lighting the lamps. I pretend not to notice the dark. I’m not scared because I’m not my brother. She can’t trick me.
My brother is so terrified of the dark that he hates to shut his eyes – even for sleep. That’s why Nurse ties stockings around his head and lets him blame her for taking away the light. Nurse is very sly. Which is why she gives me a rabbit stuffed with stockings. She says I must be lonely without my little brother to play with. She says your rabbit is alive and wants to play in your bed-garden. I say rabbits in gardens might as well be dead since I can’t see them. She says the drapes must stay closed and don’t wish for death or blindness because measles can do both.
But she’s lying about pulling the cord because she lies about rabbits. Stuffed rabbits don’t become alive until children have loved them so much that their button eyes fall out and noses rub away. I don’t tell Nurse about blindness and rabbits because she refuses to tell the truth about the window.
Nurse is losing because she didn’t realize that turning out the lamps has caused great improvements in my hearing. I hear my brother’s tin soldiers clack in war in the nursery. I hear my baby dolls’ eyes open and shut. I hear Nurse’s shoes creak around the house. When I hear my brother breathing, I yell and hit the wall because it’s so dark I’m beginning to forget what light is. Nurse says be quiet. Nurse says loudness is not good for young ladies with or without measles. I ask if loudness is not good for ladies with or without sight. She says don’t wish for bad things. I say I’m onto you.
I press the rabbit’s eyes to mine and colors burst in my head. I ask the rabbit what it sees. It says the lamp is lit low.
I cannot love a rabbit that talks like Nurse. So I chew out its back seam and tie the stockings around my eyes.
When Nurse comes in, I say look I’m blind. All I see is dark and it’s all your fault. Nurse gasps. She spanks me and says she won’t describe the garden through the window anymore.
I laugh because she knows she’s losing. She says wait until you’re better and see for yourself Miss Impatience. She touches my forehead. Her fingers run through my hair. They sound like rabbits slipping on a frozen pond. I try to slap her hands away. She says don’t act like you’re blind. I ask if blindness is worse than lying.
Nurse says I can play in the garden tomorrow. I say like a rabbit stuffed with stockings?
She pretends not to understand because the game’s about to finish. I explain she wishes me blind. That’s why she gave me the rabbit. That’s why she’s stopped lighting lamps. She says the lamps are lit. I say sore loser. I know I can’t play in the garden. I say do you mean the garden behind the window? She says of course. She says the sun can’t hurt you now. I laugh very cruel and scream LIAR! Then I crawl across the carpet as if I’m blind. And I show her that there is no garden. No window. I pulled the golden cord. I saw.