Haunted People in a Shifting Landscape: A Review of David Joy’s “When These Mountains Burn”

David Joy cover

Imagine a tree in an old growth forest. The core is ancient. Its roots have been in the earth for centuries, drawing substance from it while helping shape the ecosystem around it and even becoming an ecosystem itself. However, at the tip of its branches burgeons new life, infant shoots that are new to the world. This tree is just like David Joy’s latest novel, When These Mountains Burn; something both old and new that embodies change and permanence while also reminding us that things we imagine monolithic, like places and cultures, are malleable, changing, ephemeral. 

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No Feet

"No Feet"

No Feet
by Tomoé Hill

We have a joke, he and I: the feet. They belong to me—or rather, they are mine, but also exist as sentient, mischievous creatures of their own. There is a photo of me as a very small child, barely one years old. My father is lying on a flower-patterned sofa, face obscured by a book, and I am sitting on his legs, leaning against one of the cushions. My thumb is in my mouth, and a hand idly between my legs. I look blankly content in the way children do at that age, happy to exist and take in their immediate world. My feet are bare and slightly curled, up to no good, as he would say. We have since endowed my feet with a life of their own. Their childish wickedness is blamed when bleary-eyed, I emerge from the bedroom in search of coffee, my silent step nearly frightening the life out of him when he turns round from whatever he is doing to see me standing there, toes curling in glee at their reception, at odds with the rest of my lack of consciousness. Feet represent intuition: fight or flight, standing one’s ground, going feet first into something.

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