Angels in the Bathtub by Ellen Bloomenstain
Angels in the Bathtub by Ellen Bloomenstain, graduate, the MFA in Creative Writing at The New School
Barnesandnoble.com: A manic year in the lives of two art-school students.
Bloomenstein brings together Devon and Steven, whose lives are beset by the self absorption and lack of focus visited upon most people in their early 20s. Steven has anger issues of the free floating, pervasive sort, and Devon is indulgent of her every misery and given to a sense of entitlement. Yet Steven’s earnestness and willingness to reach out, and Devon’s insouciance, are, each in their own way, pleasant in their desperation. What ultimately makes Bloomenstein’s short work distinctive—and allows it to transcend the circumstances of her creations-is the sense that these two lives have the unlimited potential of a vivid nightmare: “There is a large bathtub, faucet running and water, cobalt blue, coming…there is a baby…baby is a doll is a baby; she cannot decide which—or if it is dying.” Bloomenstein’s language—”Sky is filled with chirps of birds”; “Window is open”—is reminiscent of the quick cuts in a Hitchcock film. She tenaciously brings the story back to reality, even as she shuffles sideways toward the surreal. The scenes shatter like mirrors and clatter unhappily down upon Steven’s passion and Devon’s cool remove, until a death causes Devon to face the harsh reality of the world as it is. Close to a slice of living theater, with enough fractured imagery and unexpected shape-shifts to keep the reader focused on the doomed action.