Death Is Not An Option
“Yours Will Do Nicely”
“Yours Will Do Nicely” is from Suzanne Rivecca’s debut collection DEATH IS NOT AN OPTION (W.W. Norton, 2010). Her fiction has appeared in BEST NEW AMERICAN VOICES 2009, among other publications. She won a Pushcart Prize and is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. The collection was a New York Times Editor’s Choice Selection and a finalist for The Story Prize.
Rivecca had this to say about writing “Yours Will Do Nicely:” My keyhole into this story was Katrina’s line, “I wanted to feel myself all around me.” A reader of an early draft said that this line ruined the story, because it indicated that Katrina doesn’t care about making a connection with anyone but herself. At first, this judgment stuck in my craw. Then I realized that such a strong reaction probably wasn’t an entirely bad sign. I believe that this is the most important line in “Yours Will Do Nicely.” Its setup–Katrina’s memory of an exchange with her ex–was the first fragment I wrote. I see the line as central to Katrina’s conflict, and to the eternal conflict between a person’s autonomy and their need.
Katrina isn’t a narcissist. Instead, like any young person experimenting with identity and self-presentation, she’s afraid that she can’t be close to a lover without losing some essential part of herself. Hence the frantic protective coloration of tie-dye. One of the most rewarding–and terrifying–parts of being in love is seeing an alternate version of yourself through someone else’s eyes: a version that is almost always brighter, more beautiful, and kinder than your vision of yourself. It is this self that Katrina longs to feel all around her, even as she can’t quite believe in its existence or in the ability of anyone else to bring it to the surface. Like all the stories in my collection, “Yours Will Do Nicely” is a variation on the concept of faith–faith in possibility, in potential, and in oneself.
Sara Ivry in her New York Times review said: The women in Suzanne Rivecca’s first story collection, DEATH IS NOT AN OPTION, are looking for salvation, though not the kind that involves Jesus. You’d be forgiven for making that assumption, considering that so many of these antiheroines are the products of Catholic schooling. But in fact, most of Rivecca’s ruthlessly frank and lonely characters have left religion, and the saving they seek in this modest, engaging and disquieting collection is from the plague of isolation — or it is, anyway, when they’re not themselves trying to be the rescuers, saving others from any number of scourges.