Have you ever listened to the Velvet Underground song “The Murder Mystery?” It is four stories told simultaneously. I used to dream when I was little of being in crowds and parties and having entire swaths of people disappearing when I wasn’t looking. When I was ten, I saw Disney’s “The Black Hole.” I’ve never been able to pull them apart. When I looked to my left, everyone had gone. I could hear everyone on my right and behind me, but I knew when I turned that they would disappear, too, and the presence still in the room would hurt me. A crew returning from a mission from space aboard the Palomino discovers a ship, The Cygnus, that was assumed to be lost stationed on the very edge of a black hole. Lou Reed tells a story in the right earphone and Sterling Morrison tells a story in the left during the verses and then Maureen Tucker tells a story in the left and John Cale in the right during the chorus. I was maybe four, too young to feel abandoned. It makes me think about black holes in our psyche, rabbit holes that where our past lives, our Jungian fears feed in darkness. The crew of The Cygnus has been lobotomized and serves the wishes of the evil scientist, Hans Reinhardt, and his scary robot, Maximilian, who have studied the black hole for twenty years and plan to enter it. Sometimes you see the light around the corner of the darkness, in dreams, in waking, and you’re drawn to it. It’s the only light, maybe the only way out. Or maybe it’s the presence left in the room, raging toward you at 50 miles per hour. The crew from the Palomino winds up traveling through the black hole. They are never seen again. “The Murder Mystery” is on the third, self-titled Velvet Underground album. They were dropped from their label, MGM, after its release.
About The Author
Jen Michalski is the author of the novels The Summer She Was Under Water and The Tide King (both Black Lawrence Press); a couplet of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc Books); and two collections of fiction, From Here and Close Encounters. Her work has appeared in more than 100 publications, including Poets & Writers. In 2013, she was named as “One of 50 Women to Watch” by The Baltimore Sun and “Best Writer” by Baltimore Magazine. She is the host of a fiction reading series in Baltimore, called Starts Here! and editor in chief of the weekly lit journal jmww.
The AR Reading List
An ongoing assortment of books by contributors, staff, and books we've featured in reviews.
Editor: Christine Taylor