By Alix Strauss
“Like a beautifully-wrapped present field, filled with unforeseen pleasures. Alix Strauss proves herself to be an astute and deeply feeling observer of human nature.”
—Dani Shapiro, writer of Black & White
A gorgeous, clever, and witty moment novel from well known pattern journalist Alix Strauss, Based Upon Availability chisels away on the exteriors of 8 clever and fascinating girls whereas delving deep within to determine what they’re actually made up of. Following her Ingram Award-winning The pleasure of Funerals—named most sensible Debut Novel through The manhattan Resident—Based Upon Availability is women’s literary fiction at its finest.
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Her medication selection is disappointing. There’s only one type of pill inside, and the bottle of Xanax belongs to Ben Theron. Her husband? Lover? I reach for a glass, fill it with water, wash down one of Mr. Theron’s pills, which I’m hoping will help me relax, then wipe the glass clean and replace it in its original spot. Back in the bedroom, I open another closet, several pairs of pants hang motionless next to a navy jacket. The first dresser drawer has a sweatshirt and matching pants, control top underwear, and T-shirts.
I apply some blush, Warm Mocha, with the enclosed brush, then spray some of her Jessica McClintock perfume on my wrist. Another bag holds a set of Chanel travel-size bottles: toner, face cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer, and anti-aging serum. I save the best part for last. The third bag is filled with personal items: toothbrush, toothpaste, eyedrops, and a bottle of pills. I love the sight of a punched-out V or K. A few small tablets of lavender or yellow or white pills—mood enhancers, elevators and downers, painkillers and relaxants—all in similar small see-through rusty-colored plastic bottles with white tops.
Her face was streaked with mascara, like Anne’s. Her eyes were bloodshot, she had too much perfume on, her shirt collar was smeared with foundation. She looked like my mother, but not. I wasn’t allowed to attend the funeral. Instead, our neighbor came and took me to the zoo. When I came home, the apartment was too quiet. Dale’s hospital bed was gone, and a new mattress and bedspring were in its place. Her belongings had been removed, too. Like Anne. Like Dale. The magician puts the lady into the box, he seals the door, and with a flick of his wrist, a swing of the wand, poof.