What struck me about Reynold’s first collection, How Best to Stage a Breakdown, was how viscerally and honestly she wrote about mental health. Mislilac builds upon this sturdy foundation and flourishes. Reynolds’ style has matured further and her voice is exceptional and unique. There is something so very honest in Mislilac even though most of the collection questions who we are and what drives our actions.
Reynolds intelligently equates break-ups with roundabouts, problems with marbles, she re-imagines text conversations laced with the ugly truth and opens up about the words she wrote but never sent. Her pieces are striking and moving. I am always in awe of Reynolds’ ability to transform the personal into something so universal.
We are all the ‘thinker’ in this collection. In ‘Strand One’, we question the advice we are given – that things get better in time, that we’ll grow out of the pain. In ‘Burner phone’, we recall all those who reek of falseness and ask why we ever loved them. In ‘Traced Together’, we remember every failed relationship – wonder if we regret the forgetting or the freedom. And in ‘Intermittance’, we think of every scar we still apologise to. In short, H. M. Reynolds masters capturing the human condition. Mislilac (Thinker) is a triumph.
“I feel these gaps and feel your
Vacancy. Vacant, to me, is
All you ever needed to be. I
Think we would know,
When we chanced upon it.
I think we would realise what we had done.”