The Troika

Stepan Chapman’s The Troika is brilliant. A surreal fantasy about a twisted family – an old mexican woman, Eva; a Jeep, Alex; and a Brontosaurus, Naomi, travelling together across an endless desert. It’s engaging and wildly inventive, a book of layered dreams and delusions, featuring guardian angels, fiddler-crab cops, Plasma Wars, and insanity.

Published by the Ministry of Whimsy Press in 1997, it is unfortunately pretty hard to find a copy of these days. And that’s a damn shame.

Here’s a taste.

I know that what I did was wrong and futile. But I’ll make it up to you, Eva. I’ll take you to a quiet little cemetary. We’ll be happy there, among the tombs and the cedars. The snow will bury us for the winter. No one will disturb us. I have a plan. I shall amplify and elaborate you beyond your wildest dream of yourself. With my forceps, clamps, and bone saws, I will inlay your ribs with mercury and thread seashell copper spirals through your thigh bones. I will microtome your shoulder blades and spread them fanwise into angel wings. Disdiscovering physiology, disinventing dissection, I shall dilate your tissues into a gradually expanding cosmos of flesh. At first, none of the work will make sense to us. But I have my reasons. In spring, we’ll burst up through the melting snow, machine and flesh merged, machine forests, flesh cathedrals. So descend, my laser lamp. Set free your razor brilliance. Slice and peel, fold my love into origami, crown her with pulmonary flowers, and let slender bronchial vines wreathe the brow of my dead bride. For then I may brush back her raven-dark hair with a mermaid’s comb, just so, like the dark of the moon. Dear dead Eva, my only friend, this is all as it is meant to be.

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