True to most fairy tales, the novel opens with the traditional phrase “once upon a time” but there is nothing traditional about this novel which is at once inventive and experimental. How many times, for example, can a writer get away with describing a young woman approaching a threshold and pressing a button on an intercom to gain entry to Apartment 3J? The answer is again and again and again. Each time the reader is given a little bit more information and each time the reader is kept in suspense. There is something portentous, if not symbolic, about crossing a threshold. Tabios takes this to new heights by exploring the threshold of pain: how much a human being can withstand pain through living with actions that can have long-lasting repercussions. The repetitive, formulaic patterns seen in Part I recur in Part II “leaving darkness for light” and in other chapters where “a dictator made me an orphan. To be an orphan is to be unsure” and in Part III “Once upon a time I woke up and I was old…” These mantras punctuate multiple arrivals. The use of repetition applied in different forms throughout the novel is akin to the musical equivalent of a set of variations on a theme.
In the same issue, Ayo Gutierrez shares some of the "posters" she is making from her favorite lines in the novel. Here are two below; you can see the rest HERE.