Oh God, Your Babies Are So Delicious
by Vi Khi Nao
Prepare to be devoured by Vi Khi Nao’s prose. Her words are a hypnotizing mix of melancholy and visceral repulsion at the urbanity of every day existence that also, strangely, feels joyous. Whether it’s an avocado about to have an abortion, or a reduction architect who is erasing his own body, there’s an imaginative horror that vivifies, and in some case, mummifies the uncanny. Nao’s stories are conversations with fungus, light, and the spores that bind the senses, sensuality dissected in a bloody bath of beauty:
“My brother is like a wife to me. He’s the head and I’m the tail of a photographic process. We knew each other’s innocence before he evaporated into light. He taught me how to absorb a man with grotesque fingernails and where to dispose of men when their faces do not show up. Love through the blood pipe has the most color spectrum, but I only want black and white.”
The spectrum of the stories are both poetic and haunting, and the kaleidoscope is startling for the way it illuminates the scratches and scars in the light. Her prose is playful, transmuting the context that encases every word and suiting them up for a versatility that feels like a menage a trois with poetry and rap. I’ve never had a brother who was like a wife, but I’ve drowned in the malodorous stink of the fingernails of faceless people. Nao sticks pipes into our flesh, our brain, and our very understanding of narrative, percolating truth into fiction and vice versa. It’s a symbiosis spurred by a harsh sundering, a conjunction forced by murderous separation. I feel like I’m being eaten with each page, then reborn through the ingestion of every sentence, an altrical weaning edited by bacterial digestion.
“Let’s pretend to be grammatically hysterical for a moment. Let’s pretend that there are no rules to how we are born or how a sentence comes into the world.”
She doesn’t just pretend there are no rules, but helps us imagine all new ones. Sentences become the gastrointestinal hormones that confuse our brain with regrets, and the Reduction Architect tries to wipe himself from the monotony of time:
“Midway through erasing his well-hidden, nonetheless erasable heart, Tom begins to form lines of regret. Regret is the price you pay for over-thinking, he thinks. This over-thinking usually emerges from being hung on a sheet of paper extensively and over-extending one’s contemplation on self-annihilation.”
Vi Khi Nao contemplates self-annihilation, a famine of emotional sustenance, a drought induced by longing. In Oh God, Your Babies Are So Delicious, Nao plays rain maker, pirouetting through showers of despair and hunger, hoping to feed, hoping to sate, revealing that the belly is insatiable, our needs, infinitely unquenchable.
Author’s Note: I met Vi online where we became interested in each other’s work and swapped PDFs. If we end up reviewing each other’s books, it wasn’t planned, and just more an indication we were excited about what we read.