"Ausubel (another reason to be proud of the UC Irvine MFA Program) has written a novel in poetry, filled with things: cabbages, hammers, blankets, and combs. A collage of destroyed lives, pieced back together."
Yes! Go, Mona!
SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS
on Ramona Ausubel’s No One Is Here Except All Of Us,
Lee Stein’s The Fallback Plan,
and Gin Phillips’ Come In and Cover Me.
No One Is Here Except All Of Us
Riverhead Books, February 2012. 325 pp.
“Let there be someone, somewhere, to tell his story,” the old man says to his wife before they drown in the river. “Our story.”
No One Is Here Except All Of Us is the story of a village in Romania called Zalischik, wiped out by the Italians and the Germans in World War Two. At first, the villagers are like children: oblivious to the war, tucked away in their remote village. They have their problems; Kayla and Hersh, for example, have no children. They pay Perl and Vlad to give them their youngest daughter, Lena, who is 11. They reinvent poor Lena as the daughter they never had.
One day, they hear the bombers overhead and they know that the world as they know it, rooms “rich with the smell of supper, soft, old napkins at each of our places,” is over. A stranger from the destroyed neighboring village appears in their midst, her children and husband dead. She confirms the terrible truth. They will have to begin again.Before this blistered world caught up with us, we nodded. Before the wreckage of a hundred broken cities landed on our banks, before we were swept away to some faraway sea, before the sky filled with silver wings and everything below turned to fire, before the tiny candle flame of our home, the last flickering light on the map was put out, we nodded. Desperation to believe joined the terror still thrumming in our chests. If we wanted to survive in this story, we had to tell it that way. We swallowed hard and waited for a reaction from the heavens.