So anyway I have to write this post now before the Internet goes away. But it never goes away. Does it.
Kari in her essay talks about the humiliating experience of trying to get a review of my novel published and being rejected several places. She had emailed me about it, and I was like, just write about it on your blog. Or maybe I didn't say that, but I knew she wanted to write about the book, and I've urged others to write reviews on their personal blogs. What I like about this: online we read and write like girls, often prone to passion and superlatives, passing around books like love letters in the mail. Now I am quoting from Heroines. It is too early to be doubly original. But I loved this piece Kari wrote about Green Girl. Not only was it deeply personal and beautiful, but it was actually such a perceptive and generous reading of the book, that gets at aspects of the book that I intended as a writer, like the palpable sense of space in the book, as Kari writes:
Green Girl takes place in London, but it isn't right to start out that way. It takes place pretty strictly in moldy rooms where men are not allowed and department stores.
And as Kari notes, which is definitely something I wanted communicated, it is strange and not-strange that Ruth when off-the-clock from Horrids, one department store, obsessively visits Liberty, another department store. As she writes, "It is she in the space, how she feels in the space, that matters. Not the trite detail of how they are both department stores." And I love love what Kari writes about the friendship between Ruth and Agnes, connecting this to her own friendships with girls, that longing, that desire:
In my own things I think of the refraction, the image of the self, as - because for me it is - a social anxiety, a yearning for solidarity, friendship, compassion in the minefield of girls. Control the image. The consistency is maddening among the faces, especially when it is all you. The quality of Ruth and Agnes' friendship is captured so exactly. I think it is stranger to yearn for friendship than for a sexual relationship. There is more at risk, more to alienate. Less is socially acceptable to articulate. When someone is after you for sex/intoxication/validation, that is so black and white to me. Friendship is so gray as to be sinister.
I really love that. Now I'll write about my own experience with abjection, to tie into Kari's maybe. Of bloggishness and girlishness. As I've alluded after J. Lowe's brilliant essay on blogging and institutional status, which I think I'm going to write about in Heroines, if I can be concise and succinct, I was worried/wondering that I too had lost work because of some aspect of my writing-self. I say this because I was always able to get adjunct work before, but except for a semester that predates my entrance as a published self. I interviewed for a job teaching first-year writing at Duke, that would have been a boon, something, very well-paid, for part-time and one class, and after it looked like I was going to be offered it....I wasn't. The person who interviewed me wrote me an email saying she was sorry it didn't work out, she'd love to have a fiction writer on staff someday, maybe in the future. At a get-together this weekend, one of the first times I've been social in the year I've been here, I met a lovely fiction writer who had just moved here from NYC, and when I asked her what she did she told me she just got hired to teach in the same program. Now, we could have been interviewed at the same time, but it didn't seem like it, actually. I know this because I was totally embarassing and inappropriate and when she told me I was like - Oh I interviewed there. But they didn't hire me. Something you're not supposed to say. It's total possible and likely this other candidate was more qualified than me - maybe more substantial teaching experience, a terminal degree. But it got me feeling itchy, as it had when I was first not offered the work, the weird change-around, a tonal thing, that the person interviewing me had discovered my blog OR even read some comments I've written online (because I am not smart enough to disguise myself even in that forum, I think I'm just learning the Internet), or even, read one of my books, which depict things like bored threesomes, etc. (John and I were having a discussion this weekend about Ntozake Shange's statement that a woman writer should feature hope at the end of her works. And John was like, your works arent' that pessimistic. And I was like - Almost everyone kills themself at the end of O Fallen Angel, but anyway.)
Anyway, I started feeling massively panic-attacky that this was not the case of where I lived now, that even if I was in a major city again, at this stage in my writing-self, I would still be unhygenic and unhireable. I mean - who writes about stuff like this in the Internet? It's immature maybe, and it's definitively unprofessional. And yet I can't help but do it, a sort of compulsion/desire. And it's freaking me out. I thought - Karen Finley worked as a bartender at the Danceteria, she didn't try to teach, now of course she's at NYU. But I'm too OLD and ASTHMATIC and needing to get in bed by 10am to be a bartender, and there's no Danceteria here. But then I also thought of how Kate Chopin was ostracized after writing The Awakening, I'm not Kate Chopin, and I've never written The Awakening, but it's still something I think about. Or I could just have an entire complex that's not validated by anything that's happening in reality. But I can't get hired anywhere- security guard, bookstore job, teaching job. All while I can't seem to kick what's becoming a bad clothes habit, a constant sense of WANTING, a HOLE. John and I started talking - what else I can do here - and then we started thinking maybe we could plug into a small business loan, open some sort of boutique, like a very accessible clothes and design shop that also sells small-press books, and vintage furniture, and we would have pictures in the store of Gertrude Stein wearing Balmain and Elfriede Jelinek wearing Yves St. Laurent and Cixous in one of her gorgeous costumes, and keep the beginning of the boutique for a pop-up space and gallery and reading space, but I started looking online and realized if I ever sold clothes for a living I would seriously just buy everything. And so yesterday I just banged my head against a table and moaned - What Am I Doing With My Life?
I know what I am doing this week - attempting to finish the book while attempting to housetrain a puppy, who is coming tomorrow or Wednesday, a 7-week-old rescue puppy, half Shih Tzu, half Boston Terrier, who we're calling Jean Genet (because he looks like an old Genet, and because of my incessant desire to put him in a sailor sweater).
In her essay, Kari Larsen wrote about Melancholia, and I cannot wait to see it, and it's not in the Triangle area yet. I think of Kirsten Dunst in this movie, the glimpses I've seen, as a Ruth figure. And actually, as I was writing the book, the Kirsten Dunst persona she plays in say Sofia Coppola movies was a major influence. She is exactly who I'd picture playing Ruth in a not-going-to-happen film of Green Girl. This film poster actually references a painting that's also referenced in Green Girl, Millais' Ophelia, which hangs at the Tate Britain.
Also, oh wait, my Google Analytics just kicked in, and the wonderful, generous Roxane Gay, who just wrote about Green Girl in this essay on The Rumpus about lists of best books, writes an essay on the "garish, gorgeous spectacles" of both Ruth in Green Girl and Joan Didion's heroines in Play It As It Lays and the women of reality TV and the performance of gender, bringing in Judith Butler, in an essay in the new issue of Bookslut. In the essay she brings in Cixous' essay "Laugh of the Medusa," a very important rallying cry for me:
In Laugh of the Medusa, Hélène Cixous states that, “Woman must put herself into the text -- as into the world and into history -- by her own movement.” Green Girl is fascinating for the ways Zambreno puts woman into the text, physically and emotionally. “Ruth wants to escape. She wants to escape outside of herself. Everywhere she goes she wants to confide: Do you know what it’s like not to be able to shake your own quality? She doesn’t want to live. She wants to lose herself, lose herself in the crowd. She is somehow numbed to the horrors of everyday. Images, other images haunt her brain. The violence of life, she observes blankly.”
More than anything, Green Girl is relentless in what it reveals about the green girl and her inner life, the emptiness and loneliness, the naked violence of it, how she must swallow it, “deep deep inside.”
Thank you Kari. Thank you Roxane. It's a really strange paradox I feel my life is right now. To be read and to have your writing exist in a dialogue with other works and the thoughts of other writers is the most intimate, privileged, kind of communication. Then other times, in my fleshly existence, outside of my domestic dyad, I feel such a chill, or an invisibility.
this is me: