I'm always impaling myself on silver things, things my lover gives me when I'm not looking. He buys me silver rings and puts them on me when I'm asleep. He buckles my waist with a silver belt, drapes me with silver necklaces, fastens anklets under my jeans, puts six earrings in the holes of my ears. Silver and never gold, because silver is the color of the accident one longs for. It's light that slants through rice paper shades, a face on the street that carries you through the solstice."
So begins "Silver," one of the 27 stories in Thaisa Frank's hauntingly beautiful new collection of short fiction, Sleeping in Velvet. With prose as affecting as the title is magnetic, Frank's words coalesce in a consortium of stories best described as lovingly, uncomfortably alluring. The stories in Sleeping in Velvet are exceptionally real; one can feel the author herself riding in the backseats of cars, hiding in closets, and sitting in piercing parlors or rented houses on rainy cigarette-smoke mornings with the characters she creates. No one story is exceptionally talkative; rather, the alignment of so many terse, color-packed vignettes in such a way coaxes the reader to float in and out of many lives, lives of distracted, sometimes muddled, sometimes amorous people, and emerge bright yet gray. The arrangement of these stories is not unlike the cinematic technique whereby the camera follows one person down a street until the lens catches someone even more immediately enticing and does an about-face to shadow them. For all these characters, though, the environment overhead is the same. It is life right now, in all its mismatched tragedy and curiosity; it is you and I and the people you pass on a given day, whose lives continue on down the block just as yours does, waiting for the walk sign or in other, intimate settings. Thaisa Frank's Sleeping in Velvet does the literary about-face to follow passersby a little further into privacy.