Deborah Ann Percy presents a stunning collection of desperate and gorgeous tales, set against the backdrop of Michigan’s third coast. Percy’s characters are mostly decent middle-class folks who want to live well and do little damage. They abandon those they love and are in turn abandoned; husbands vanish at the corner grocer, wives disappear into momentary affairs, and children swim willfully so far from shore that we despair of their safe return. It is Percy’s great characters that move us, as we read purposefully, perhaps a bit wary as we dodge in and out of Invisible Traffic.
Sarah catches her reflection, fractured glimpses of herself as she passes, tilted in shop windows. Though she doesn’t look directly at her image, she’s aware of its moving clumsily beside her, strangely awkward, almost limping. She’s usually a graceful woman: chairing committees smoothly, entering rooms gracefully, leaning forward politely to listen to a friend.
But here she is; here’s her reflection lurching gracelessly along with her. She would like to turn her head and watch herself openly, thoughtfully, to discover what mistake she has made today, what she has lost or left undone. Her glasses are at home, mislaid somewhere, and she would like to walk more slowly and look directly at herself to discover why today she is so out of place; but she can’t.
She has left her car at a gas station downtown and walked out of the pool of fluorescent lights toward the center of the city. The awkward gait of the stranger beside her is so disturbing, so distracting, that she doesn’t see the cherry-colored sports car pull up beside her until it’s too late. Later, if she thinks about this night at all, she’ll remember the car’s red enamel reflection behind her own image, moving slowly with her for at least half a block.
“Hey, what are you doing way down here by yourself?”
Deborah Ann Percy earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Western Michigan University. A book of her short fiction, Cool Front: Stories from Lake Michigan, appeared in 2010 from March Street Press; Invisible Traffic is her first full-length collection. Her plays, and those written in collaboration with her husband, Arnold Johnston, have won awards, publication, and production nationwide. Their books include the following: their full-length plays Beyond Sex and Rasputin in New York; a collection of their one-acts, Duets: Love Is Strange; and editions (translated with Dona Roşu) of plays by Romanian playwright Hristache Popescu: Night of the Passions, Sons of Cain, and Epilogue. Their edited anthology The Art of the One Act appeared in 2007 from New Issues Press. Since 2003 they have written twenty half-hour radio dramas for broadcast on Kalamazoo’s NPR-affiliate WMUK-FM as part of All Ears Theatre. They’ve adapted and expanded one of their All Ears dramas for the stage, and it appeared in 2013 from Eldridge Publishing as Rumpelstiltskin: The True Hero. From 2009-2012 they were joint Arts and Entertainment columnists for the national quarterly journal Phi Kappa Phi Forum. After a distinguished administrative career in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, Debby is now a full-time writer. Winner of major playwriting grants from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, she is a member of the Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights’ Center, and the American Literary Translators Association.