I have secret writers: or writers I want to keep secret. At the same time, want to tell everyone who will listen to go read their work. Micheline Aharonian Marcom is one of those writers. She is not an easy read by any means, even when she writes with short sentences, they are often heartbreaking and frequently morally and socially ambiguous. She is a writer of the heart—a heart in conflict with itself—and A Brief History of Yes (Dalkey Archive Press) is a very sincere novel. Modern cynicism won’t be welcomed. As in her previous novel The Mirror in the Well, I think she is trying to rehabilitate words that have lost their meaning through overuse or cliché. Words like “love,” “lover,” and “beloved” abound in this novel, and at one point her protagonist poses the question—“What is love?” The modern reader winces at this point of inquiry because to his/her ears it’s hokey and played-out—it’s pop music lyrics appearing in a serious novel. Yet to read Marcom’s book is to ponder the question without prejudice and with seriousness.
Herewith are the opening five chapters of A Brief History of Yes.