this short story about a midnight encounter between a specter and Miss Dickinson caught my eye because, well . . . Emily Dickinson. And also, the really, well -- icky cover. And I'm glad I found it.
first of all, it's beautifully written. you can see that in the short example, here:
"She grabbed from a peg the tippet of tulle she often wrapped around her shoulders when walking or working in the outdoor gardens. It was a flimsy wrap, and did little to warm her against the wind that shook the trees in the orchard. She thought of it more as a familiar arm around her shoulders."
In only a few paragraphs, the author is able to capture her personality and idiosyncrasies:
"She hadn't been in front of the Homestead in over a year, and the thought of being seen drained her will. She found it ever preferable to be in her room, sitting at her writing table, watching, through the wavy window glass, the traffic of Main Street. For long stretches in the afternoon, before she put pen to paper again, she'd watch her neighbors come and go. Her imagination gave her their names and their secrets, . . ."
In the middle of the night, Quill manifests himself to Emily because he requires help with a problem, and this interaction made me smile :
"'The spell has to be undone. I'm not sure how, but word magic, I'm guessing can best be subdued with words. You know, I almost decided to snatch Walt Whitman instead.'
Emily winced. 'The man's pen has dysentery. . . .Please, allow Mr. Whitman the honor.'
'For this task, though, I need a surgeon not a dervish.'"
Quill travels with her to show her the horrid grotesquery which he needs her to help him counteract, and then we have this description of her writing process.
"In the dream the gentian tea, tasting like the sweetest dirt, had made her mind race, and now too, beneath the ground, her mind raced. Phrases flew, their letters visible, from every grotto of her mind. She stood at the center of the storm, scythe in hand, cutting through the dross. Eventually she lifted the pen and drew ink. The first line came strong to the paper, and there was a pause – a moment, a day, a year – before she hesitantly began on the second line. Slowly, the poem grew. Midway she sat back and wondered which came first, the words or the visions. Her thoughts circled, and then she leaned forward and resumed her work."
I really like this piece, the atmosphere, the characters, the storyline and the denouement. Jeffrey Ford has written quite a lot, none of which I've read, before now. I will be looking for his name in future.