||One Man's Trash
Reading Ivan E. Coyote's One's Man's Trash is like sharing a long drive with a stranger, the kind of journey that lets you learn as much about yourself as your travelling companion. The stories are intimate, humorous, honest and unheroic; they speak of small experiences and memories that become much larger in the telling. Each one holds some unexpected truth, revealed by the detailed observations that are so much a part of Coyote's distinct style.
Still, what is most magical about these stories is the author's ability to transform ordinary experiences into extraordinary tales; to give great meaning to a visit to the doctor or a childhood prank. The purchase of a new vacuum cleaner opens the door to spiritual change, facial cleansers become vehicles for self-love and acceptance, and Coyote transforms the experience of trying to marry her girlfriend in Vegas into a bizarre mirror of heterosexual privilege. And she does it all with a total lack of pretension and genuine compassion for her characters. Things happen for a reason, people are who they are, and this is enough to make them worthy of being recounted. Coyote doesn't write love stories but she underscores the value of our capacity to love, the importance of human connections and community, the gifts we receive when our lives intersect with the lives of others.
Coyote's prose is confident and solid, and oddly moral. Goodness prevails and even when difficult issues arise or bad things happen, the characters remain open to wonderment and grow stronger from their experience. This is angst-free writing, where the story takes centre- stage and the underlying admiration of the characters rubs off easily on the reader.
One Man's Trash demonstrates Coyote's unique voice and her ability to adapt the short story form for her tales. It proves her talent for invoking an easy intimacy and delivering full, credible character with just a few brief strokes. Ivan E. Coyote entertains us; she moves us and makes us think. And she always leaves us wanting more. ò