Year of the Rat (2016)
by Marc Anthony Richardson
Winner of the FC2 Ronald Sukenick
In Year of the Rat, an artist returns to the dystopian city of his birth to tend to his invalid mother only to find himself torn apart by memories and longings. Narrated by this nameless figure whose rants, reveries, and Rabelaisian escapades take him on a Dantesque descent into himself, the story follows him and his mother as they share a one-bedroom apartment over the course of a year.
“Even the most challenging of transgressive writers pales in comparison... Technically a novel, it will make all but the most experimental of readers throw it across a room.”
As the sun descends I see now not all of our quality time will be spent during the day, there will be quality nights as well: from birth to my fourth year I will sleep by her side, yet from my fourth to my seventh her bed will become a privilege. For whenever the man is home, for the child fathers the man, I will grapple almost nightly with bed sheets as though battling apparitions, and whenever the lights are left on, at breakfast table with spear in hand, fiercely will he rise up the issue of the electric bills. But there will be many stormy nights when she will let me sneak abed under the extenuation of fear, and never will she stir although lightly will she sleep: she will feign sleep until I fall asleep and follow suit, waking me only to crawl away before the man rises. There will even be nights when she will go to bed unclothed to wait for the little thief, for her sadness would have metastasized and she will confide in me; on such turbulent nights under the guise of subterfuge, aside the man who sleeps like a rock under sea, under the touch of an antenna her little cockroach, she will allow me admittance into the wonderful creases of her being. All except one. For when I’ll try to quest this only then will she moan and stir, only then will I surcease. Pray for storms. For on one night when I am seven she will be in remission, and several of those antennas will glide several times inside that awful region as agents of pollination to return an eternity later, radiant and redolent of the magnolias once whiffed in the American South.