A title can add a subterranean layer of suspense—when will we encounter it? what will it mean? how much heft will it insist upon?—or it can plainly get things moving. Over short stories like “Dosas,” “The Gift,” and “Hot-Air Balloons,” Edwidge Dandicat’s titles do both.
The reference to the title of her new collection, Everything Inside, is to be found inside “Dosas,” the first story, on a defaced sticker on a door—and it feels like that when you read it, like the story is the opening door.
In that story, a young live-in nurse runs afoul of her dying patient’s daughter, who isn’t much impressed with her level of care, given all the phone calls the nurse is receiving—until the nurse gives in and explains that her ex-husband’s girlfriend has been kidnapped back in Port-au-Prince.
Haiti feels like the heart or the mind or the guts of the book, whether the characters have made it to Miami or elsewhere. Haiti waits.
Calling Danticat’s prose placid or calm or clear makes it sound, what, boring? So that’s not right. She has a way of calibrating emotion in a matter-of-fact way that somehow heightens the emotion. When the stories take wild turns—and they can, they do, one guy falls five hundred feet into a cement mixer—they nonetheless unfold with that prose I’m not describing well yet, with maybe implacable grace, like, This is what happens. This is what life is. It was only a matter of time. PLEASE READ
Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat, from Knopf