Literary Nonfiction. THE HOUSEHOLD MUSE, titled after a collection of piano pieces by Darius Milhaud, is a correspondence between two writers who live together. These short essays, written back and forth over the course of a year, are concerned with "whatever was closest on any particular day, although what was closest might be long ago or far away:" peach saplings, former loves, political mayhem, mice in the compost, refugees, a dying friend, a melodeon, a marsh hawk by the railroad tracks. The writers—a California poet drawn into the San Francisco poetry scene in the 1970s and a New Yorker who fled university life for New Mexico during the same era—met in the state's Artists in the Schools program and coupled up many years and several divorces later. In "My Whatever," Tom Ireland writes, "If you still have it, please destroy the letter I wrote to you before we got together...something along the lines of, 'I want to possess you and be possessed by you.' I was out of my mind with desire, whereas now, I just love you." Anne Valley-Fox replies in "Not Married," "Maybe I don't trust myself as one half of a couple; maybe I don't trust husbands; maybe you and I relish the renegade feeling of living on the other side of the matrimonial tracks. We could change our minds tomorrow. For today, I choose to be with you, I do." The collection, completed a few months before the coronavirus outbreak, ends with the birth of a grandson, an event that invites the two to consider the time they have left, however short or long, and how to make the most of it. "So yes," she writes, "let's bet our lives on human kindness and microbe-eating earthworms, and love each other like there's no tomorrow."
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Tom Ireland grew up in New York City, studied English literature at Harvard College, and received an MFA in writing from Stanford University. His books include Invisible Worm (with Alyosha Zim and John McClellan), Mostly Mules (with Molly Mehaffy), Birds of Sorrow, Our Love Is Like a Cake, THE MAN WHO GAVE HIS WIFE AWAY (Tres Chicas Books, 2010), and THE HOUSEHOLD MUSE with Anne Valley-Fox (Tres Chicas Books, 2020). Ireland received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in creative nonfiction. His narrative nonfiction has been published in various journals and republished in Best American Travel Writing.Anne Valley-Fox was born in Paterson, New Jersey, grew up in Santa Monica, California, and attended the University of California at Berkeley. She has published Your Mythic Journey: Finding Meaning in Your Life through Writing and Storytelling with Sam Keen, THE HOUSEHOLD MUSE with Tom Ireland (Tres Chicas Books, 2020), and five books of poetry: Sending the Body Out, Fish Drum 15, Point of No Return, How Shadows Are Bundled and NIGHTFALL (Red Mountain Press, 2016). Valley-Fox has two sons and three grandchildren and lives under the big skies of New Mexico with the writer Tom Ireland.Author City: SANTA FE, NM USA