TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE is a eclectic collection of short stories from a new voice in fiction, Terena Elizabeth Bell. The book reminds me of an avant-garde art exhibition, not necessarily for everyone, but nonetheless innovative and thought provoking. Bell, whose writings have appeared in The Atlantic, Playboy, Yale Review, and others, wrote the collection during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tackles a number of topics within its pages. The book's ten experimental short stories offer commentary on the coronavirus quarantines, climate change, the January 6th invasion on the US Capitol, and other events from 2020-2021.
For instance, the story #CoronaLife tells the story of one New Yorker's journey--from nonchalance, disbelief, fear, loss, and grief--during the coronavirus pandemic through a series of social media posts between family and friends. Another called Regression--my personal favorite from the collection--provides short but very poignant and heartbreaking insight into the five phases of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Bell's writing may not be for everyone, but these stories are powerful reminders that the written word holds tremendous power when wielded by someone with vision and imagination. TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE is a masterpiece in experimental fiction, and definitely places Bell among a short list of up-and-coming writers to watch.