Posts tagged prose
Straight dudes cry in my arms because even though they’re crying, I’m still the one who’s a fag. Girls treat me like I’m their therapist because they assume that I know their pain and don’t want to fuck them. I hear a lot about other people’s relationship problems, is what I’m saying, even though I don’t know shit about relationships.
My resume’s heavy on one-night stands and low on love – and it’s not because I don’t want love. I do want an excuse to drive with the windows down, bawling as I blast Meatloaf songs. But something about where I’m from has always made love seem unappealing, maybe impossible. Something in Florida drove people nuts: all the mothers popped pills, and all the kids chilled with mobsters and snorted blow.
When I first arrived at Sarah Lawrence, I chased after catches, but things kept going terribly wrong. I’d go home with people like Harvard Boy, a “native New Yorker” who was taking a year off at his parents’ Chelsea pad to “intern and explore the world” (suck cock). He brought me home after a rave. He was so WASPy, so Manhattan, I had to lead us to the L train. He described his mother as “pretty and twenty years younger than my father” and me as “a total queen.” When I asked him what he thought of the Forster novel on his bedside table, he laughed. What would a boy who wore fishnets know about Forster? The next morning he kicked me out of his apartment, because the handy man coming in ten minutes would tell his parents he was gay. He was slumming. I was the slum.
A Mentor by Nature
I read Sempre Susan in one sitting, enthralled. You can never fully anticipate a book having that sort of impact on you, but when it does, it’s hard to ignore. Sigrid Nunez is unsparingly honest about her experience with Susan Sontag, and this creates a queasy tension in the reader: I felt embarrassed for Sontag, a woman who, despite her fierce intellect, could be petty and odd. She could also be authoritarian, unforgiving and without sympathy. And sometimes I resented Nunez for portraying her this way.
It’s interesting to be made to feel like shit by the person you’ve wanted to impress most. That kind of relationship has a funny way of making us learn more about ourselves.
When I worked in book publishing I was more self-conscious than I’ve ever been in my entire adult life. I was the only black person in the editorial department. Never mind that most of the peers I was surrounded by all seemed to maintain an auspiciously comfortable lifestyle despite earning a salary so small it hurts me to even think about it. It didn’t matter. I had something to prove and I knew exactly how I would do it: I would work for the most hard-nosed, no-bullshit, “everyone hold your breath, omg she’s coming” editor in the book business. That’s how I would prove my mettle.
No Hierarchy of Pain
by Sady Doyle
Emily Carter spends a lot of time, in Glory Goes and Gets Some, playing with ideas about who has the right to pain. I suspect that inside many of us there’s a voice that says me, I’m the one with the problems, pay attention to me, along with a conviction that we will lose out if we’re not the saddest person in the room. Carter actually invites you to do this. She pushes your buttons, pisses you off, gets you to actively dislike her protagonist Glory until finally she turns around and slaps you full force with what Glory’s been through.
Glory is holding a good hand in this particular game. She’s been beaten by her first husband, been addicted to several controlled and uncontrolled substances, been fucked cruelly to pay for them, been diagnosed with HIV, been put through rehab, and has lost New York and an “intellectual” family and a punk rock lifestyle, in favor of a recovery-centric existence in the Midwest. These are serious problems. If you were foolish enough to get into a competition with Glory, over who had the most serious problems, you might lose.
What You Deserve
I didn’t expect to recognize myself in a short story collection that centers on an HIV-positive ex-heroin addict who moves to Minnesota to get her body clean and her life in order. I own a lot of skirts that hit below the knee and the only thing I’ve ever really been addicted to is other people’s approval.
Emily Carter knows what it’s like, whatever “it” is. She knows the sweet seduction of willed failure, the feeling that makes you want to “go have a drink, or … eat an entire Philadelphia cheesecake, which will make it impossible to think about anything but [your] intestines for the next three hours,” immediately after meeting someone accomplished. She knows that “There is no man anywhere so psychotic, so drunk, so evil, so helpless, so brutal, indifferent, or even just annoying that some woman somewhere won’t keep him warm even if she freezes to death doing it, just for a chance to wipe away the invisible tears she thinks she sees on his face, like clear ice on a cold windowpane.” She knows that this is especially true if other people are helpfully pointing out that there are, really, no tears. Glory says, “But I didn’t want to get what I deserved. Who does?”
by Ruth Curry
“You had better STOP that SHIT. You don’t know THE STREET. They will eat you alive. You think you’re going to get away with THAT SHIT? Do you know what’s going to happen to you? You’re going to get FUCKED UP THE ASS. Let me tell you something before you let some man fuck you up the ass: You make sure he LOVES YOU.” – Emily Carter, “The Bride,” Glory Goes and Gets Some
The first time I read this I was twenty-one years old. I was an intern at a small press in Minneapolis, and reading this story collection was one of my first assignments there. It had just been published. Chris, the editor-in-chief, wanted me to get a feel for the kind of books Coffee House did. In this passage, a random barback lectures the protagonist Glory— a nice Upper East Side Jewish girl and a heroin addict—about the things she’s doing to feed her addiction.
I was shocked by these lines in the way only a nice Midwestern girl raised by fundamentalist Christian parents could be. I had landed this internship in part because I was as clean-cut, as punctual, as good-spirited and enthusiastic, as high-achieving as they come. I had been a Bible Quiz champion, for god’s sake. I mean, my friends and I joked about my Illinois State Bible Quiz Champion crown while too underagedly-drunk to stand, but still. Fucked up the ASS?