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DIRECTORY collects the lives of interconnected twins and triplets whose identities switch and blur and fracture as their plural selves crisscross the country. The inhabitants of the collection explore the causes of their trauma, reliving memories of past existences, looking for an end to their pain.

"Christopher Linforth's splendid Directory is composed of shrapnel selves, both aesthetic and existential, each shard sharp, concentrated, biting, brutal, devastating, and astonishing." --Lance Olsen, author of My Red Heaven

“Christopher Linforth’s Directory offers prose that twins no others. Original crisp writing, taking its readers on an unforgettable journey, through portals of the unknown. A wonderful, surprising, powerful read.” —Kim Chinquee, author of Wetsuit and Shot Girls

“…refreshing at times, shocking, disorienting and puzzling at others, but throughout the entire book you follow a thread of tender humanity that begs you to identify with a perspective that squeezes, prods and stabs at the heart in a multiplicity of ways.” —Levi Noe, Bending Genres

80 pages, Paperback

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Christopher Linforth

11 books17 followers

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Lori.
1,431 reviews55.8k followers
August 9, 2020
Don't let the page count fool you. Directory is deceptively muscular and packs an incredibly powerful gut punch. Told in interconnected flash stories, Linforth urges us to disect what it means to be "I vs we" as we follow a set of twins who are also sometimes triplets as they search for the father who abandoned them, and an end to the tramas they've suffered.
Profile Image for Samuel Moss.
Author 6 books51 followers
February 14, 2021
This review was first posted at Perfidious Script

In its forty-one stories set out in proper, unadorned prose ‘Directory’ sets forward the thesis ‘What is it to be I versus we?’

Each story in ‘Directory’ appears separate and self contained, most, koan-like, are a page or less in length. Each is a brick that builds a world that is similar to our own but darker, less forgiving and cloaked in an ominous light. There are through-lines in many of the stories, little details or personality traits that might link the unnamed characters, or which may be nothing more than coincidence.

Long-stay motels, clapboard houses, rotting food, loose cigarettes and cramped rooms populate the world in which the stories of ‘Directory’ take place. The dark suburban glut. The boredom of childhood in a world of ease. The tension and frustration and bright joy of finding some way to feel some feeling.

The characters, unnamed, often twins, ache through their symptoms and diseases, often of hereditary origin. Identity is fluid, the barriers between and within malleable or non-existent. Twins or siblings speak in the singular, some individuals, like the old caretaker in ‘Proposal’, speak in the plural which give the stories the gauzy, loaded feel of dreaming. They attend schools with circus clubs, at which they fail miserably. The frustration of their lives sublimates into self-destructive acts ‘…we flung darts at squirrels, jumped off one-story rooftops, made the crazed neighborhood pit bull chase us.’ They tell us, ‘We’re really here to talk about our virtues.’ but when their virtues are shown to be non-existent qualify: ‘So perhaps we don’t have virtues. But surely we have something.’ What is this something that they have? ‘Directory’ presents childhood in its true light, as something not bucolic or wondrous but rather filled with fear and the joy at spreading that fear to others.
When they aren’t absent adults are often aggressors, antagonists and abusers. Perpetually clamping down on the destructive fun the children seek or seeking their own pleasure as they destroy the children themselves. Regardless, the blame is always placed on the children as the locus of control, the fount of evil.

No one is free of guilt or sin. A neighbor who chastises two boys for setting off fireworks in himself found to be a murderer of dogs. In ‘Apocrypha’ a pair of twins are lured into their elderly neighbor’s house after the man claims that there is an intruder inside. After the twins enter a strange, bare room the neighbor leaves suddenly, announcing that the house isn't even his.
Each story starts anew, with characters that exhibit a grinding familiarity, as if the same trauma is being relived again and again, the same escape attempted over and over yet never achieved. Absent mothers hold the elusive freedom that the main characters always long for, yet which is always out of reach. Abusive stepfathers, entranced with their own haphazard and self-serving religious systems occur again and again, always on the edge of the narrative, waiting for the reader to depart so he can again enact his torturous deeds.

Even when escape appears to have been successful, as in ‘Tongues’, the abuser always lurks off in the shadows: ‘A final New Year, a millennium celebration, brought our stepfather back.’ Escape ultimately has its own cost, as in the case of ‘Tongues’ where the characters lose the things that had kept them whole. When revenge comes it is never sweet or cathartic, simply an act that must occur, as the sisters in ‘Tongues’ find, when, after cornering their abusive step father, and mutilating him they find only that ‘He spoke something, in the end, but we do not know what he said.’ Does he, when he finally faces the costs of his actions, apologize or simply continue to defend his actions?
With all the darkness some humor does pop through, as in one instance where the mother is killed by a falling tree and, a neighbor '…sawed the trunk into neat circles. Wafer-thin slices he sold as flying discs, replacements for vinyl.'

Religion is a common theme, always the feeble reflex of the dead and dying, or a dime store scam, like the preacher whose words or recorded by his followers and sold for ‘for $9.95 in Tompkins Square Park.’ When his church crumbles to the ground it reveals a shining monolith that causes the surrounding neighborhood to gentrify rapidly

By the end of ‘Directory’ no easy answers to the ‘I/We’ conundrum have been set out. Rather, the reader comes away from the collection with a broader, more nuanced, even mystical view of identity, of humanity, of the world.
Profile Image for Sarah.
46 reviews
January 23, 2022
Well-written and mysterious, fractured yet of a piece. A very interesting book.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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