It’s Writers’ Week at UNCW: a week full of talks and readings from writers, book editors and agents. It’s had my brain so saturated that I stayed up until 2AM Monday night just
processing. What I’ve realized is that writing is good for the soul if you’re someone who needs it. And it isn’t about the success, or the money, or the publishing that matters, it’s how your gut unfurls from its fetal position when you sit down to do it. Truth be told, I was oversaturated because Meg Day is a genius poet.
Because she is deaf, there was a sign language interpreter at every reading she gave and I got to witness the interpreter speak Cortney Lamar Charleston’s poems. I have never been so mesmerized in my life and actually plan on signing up for sign language classes because the way a poem is verbalized in an auditory way paired with bodily interpretation is some leftover magic from the before-world. Side note: Meg Day is also just totally hot, so read her poems and expand your world.
Tweet proof of my over saturation:
I’ve been hearing brilliant writers like Cortney Lamar Charleston, Meg Day, Toni Jensen, and Joni Tevis,who literally conjures spirits while she reads with her floating-interpretive-dance hands. It’s been overwhelming to be in a space with so much talent, but it’s also reminded me promoting books isn’t corny. I keep thinking about my complicated relationship with #bookstagram: how white the space is, how against political ranting, how cliquish, how oriented towards pretty covers and free books rather than innovation in book writing and genre bending. But at the heart, #bookstagram is a place where people are promoting widely, new literature. And reading, and reviewing, and isn’t that beautiful — an entire space dedicated to words (+ design).
In her presentation discussing being an editor at Catapult, @juliebuntin told us to hype books we love. I’m trying to get back to that with this first installment of the mini-review series. First up, Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey. It’s Claudia Dey’s birthday today so send her a shoutout on social media, or buy her book that I’m about to blab about, linked here from my favorite Indie Bookstore, Quail Ridge.
Review: This strange little book needs to be read by all the peoples. And especially all the people writing in closet-sized spaces who are like “I want to write in the voice of this here animal or inanimate object.” This book has three voices: the girl, the dog, and the boy. Each voice gets about eighty pages to tell their version of the main story thread which is: a mother has gone missing from “the territory,” and taken the truck. The territory is both a town and a group of people who live off the grid and sustain themselves by taking and selling teenager’s blood. Don’t worry, it’s not horror, and I wouldn’t cling so hard to that world building as this world is really just a background factor to the interior life of the characters.
Dey’s words in Heartbreaker take up eight pages in my journal (in tiny font) because her writing voice is so listy and follows tangents in surprising and sexy ways. I normally wouldn’t say sexy about a book, but I was so intrigued with how women used their bodies, spoke of their wanting, and dressed their lust. The girl section is voiced by Pony Fontaine who is a teenager with an emotionally drifting father and a mother who is simultaneously lost and found. I get real irritated with how high school age girls are written in fiction, like bent, I get real bent — and I believed Pony Fontaine like she was speaking into a mic just to me. There was so much to her relationships, her inner monologues and her loneliness that rang specifically true.
Small bite: Heartbreaker is a CULT classic for angry girlhood and unfolding the body like cheap origami and the mysteries of masculinity. Read it, devour it, pet the dog, if she’ll let you.
A few quotes I couldn’t live without:
“Will I be able to tell my mother that she has been the only emotional weather in this bungalow for three months straight, and that I too have a lot of feelings? I have a lot of feelings” (21).
“The reservoir is the result of an asteroidal event, which the astrophysicists also call an impact event. A person could organize her timeline into impact events. This is one approach to understanding life” (36).
“The sky is so dull! Do something sky! Do a meteor shower or something! Feel me up! Make it summer! The girls grin until they show their gums. They untuck their shirts and knot them under their breasts. They fold the waistbands of their pants down so the edges of their hip bones come up. My hipbones. You like them? They’re new. Softness bracketed by hardness. Copy-righting this look, the girls think, copyrighting this whole look” (48)
“And even when you did lie on your back to look up at the night sky, it was not without strategy. You knew the worth of floating. You measured it out before submitting yourself to it. Weightlessness had worth, and so you went for weightlessness, and eventually, when you thought she was ready, taught it to your daughter” (146).
I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.