In a narrative interwoven with fairytales, the lines that divide memories from dreams blur in the fourth book of the Wordcraft of Oregon Fabulist Novella Series, Mama & the Hungry Hole, by Johanna DeBiase. Julia is 4-years-old and her Mama has stolen her away to the mountains of northern New Mexico where everything is unfamiliar and everyone is unknown. Lonely and often forced to take care of herself during Mama’s many “quiet times,” Julia befriends a tree. Tree has been around longer than anyone and witnessed the village change from thriving ranching town to hippie commune to bedroom community. When Julia’s Nana comes to visit and a traveling Circus moves in next door it seems like everything will change for the better, but Tree is the first to notice the eerie sensation of nothingness deep beneath its roots.
“Johanna DeBiase’s Mama and the Hungry Hole excavates the innocence and despair of the liminal child. As activist as it is feminist, DeBiase follows the abrupt agony when the body is confronted with death. Here, mourning yields potent escapism, and Mama and the Hungry Hole is a magical curse that we dare not stop reading.” – Lily Hoang, author of Unfinshed and The Evolutionary Revolution
“Loss, family-forged shackles and bonds, and the power of storytelling, are at the splintered heart of this engaging debut novella. DeBiase poignantly renders the mystery, magic and terror inherent in nature and childhood, and does so with vigorous simplicity. In what amounts to a deftly executed balancing act: charm holds hands with tender sorrow; reality dissolves inside of dreams; and peeled layers reveal deeper mysteries. Or to spin it another way: an existential fairy tale for insomniacs.” – John Biscello, author of Broken Land, A Brooklyn Tale, and Freeze Tag
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