In This Light: New and Selected Stories collects nine of Melanie Rae Thon’s short stories in one two-hundred sixty-six page volume. While each story is unique and worthy in its own way, I focused on “Confession for Raymond Good Bird” which recounts Raymond’s death from the point of view of the tribal EMT, Jimi, who failed to save his life.
Jimi imagines Raymond’s pleasure at reuniting with his niece the morning of his death:
“In the light of Roshelle Dancy, in her body reflecting morning light, this morning’s light before the heat grew terrible, in the sweet golden light spilling through worn-thin-as-gauze curtains, in the radiant love of Roshelle, your whole family came alive, the long-dead and unborn.” (208)
On my first read, I didn’t notice that Thon’s expressive phrasing includes four repetitions of the word “light” augmented by two words reproducing light’s effect: “reflecting” and “radiant.” After my studied “close read,” I recognized how Thon enhances and reinforces Roshelle’s imagined impact on Raymond Good Bird through her lyric repeats.
Dear Melanie Rae is one author apparently uninterested in social media and promotion. She doesn’t tweet, share on Facebook or have a personal website. The best I can offer is an older biography at the National Endowment for the Arts, which fortunately, includes a little bit more of the “Confession for Raymond Good Bird.”