“But the inner lives of animals are such a mystery to me, which has made me feel that my understanding of the world is incomplete.” -Talia Lakshmi Kolluri, Author’s Note for What We Fed to the Manticore
Each story in Kolluri’s collection is narrated by a different animal—a vulture, a wolf, a whale, a pigeon, and more. As I read through these stories (and lay in bed, thinking about them; and watched a neighbor’s cat, thinking about them more; and walked at the park watching two robins, thinking about the birds that flew above my head and through Kolluri’s stories) I was interested in the “inner lives” of these different characters, but I find myself even more interested in what we might call the ‘outer world’ of each story. When I look at a broken tree trunk and see woodgrain like the wood of my floor, when I see something like lumber, I’m seeing the forest differently than the robins do. The patterns of my “inner life” are sloshing out to paint a picture of what here is. A wolf, a whale, a pigeon—what world might they see around them?
I spend a lot of time thinking about these ‘different’ spaces that sit on top of each other: what “my counter” is to me, as I wipe it down, and that surface is to the fly who lands on the far end. What, to me, is the green area behind my apartment—a firepit, a nice place to gather with friends—and what is that space to the crabapples growing there? And as we all share it, the robins and the trees and the grass and the flies and me, what is it now?