Sometimes I wonder if Meredith Alling has Google alerts for herself set up, and groans when she sees I’ve written about her and this story again. I received Sing the Song in a mystery box from Spork Press a few years ago, and have been enamored ever since. Much like Deb Olin Unferth, there are so many stories I could’ve selected in place of the one I’ve chosen – I think Alling’s work is best read in conversation. What is the food that you can’t eat just one? Lay’s Chips? Pringles? Her stories are Pringles in that way. But her stories are also unlike Pringles. Her stories are absurdist and heartfelt and so, so lovable. The deep admiration and love she has for her characters is immeasurable, and should be aspirational for every writer. We must love our characters, even when we put them through tribulation. This story (and collection) is one I turn towards when I want to feel excited about writing. ‘Other Babies’ has a tremendous rhythm to it; the perfect opener to a book entitled Sing the Song, because there is music in this prose, and I love to belt it out.
Published in Sing the Song, Future Tense Books 2016. Read the story online here