Thursday, June 20, 2013

watching the round ball

Oh dear god this Marie Calloway discussion will never end. The latest piece about her new book, written for Flavorwire by a friend of hers, is muddled by idle swats at the patriarchy and a weird insistence that Calloway doesn't have to be a good writer because she's appealing to contemporary gender/identity politics and is thus addressing Important Issues.

Which, I mean, good for her, but oppression under the brutal shithammer of the patriarchy doesn't excuse flat prose and the boring repetition of a literary voice that does nothing but get fucked and feel bad about it over and over and over again. For all the explicitness of Calloway's work, none of it feels really honest and I'm surprised more readers--male and female alike--don't feel kind of cheap and exploited by the whole thing.

There are women who write about sex and its ephemera in interesting ways, though. Tracy Dimond, for example, references it quite a bit in her poetry collection, Sorry I Wrote So Many Sad Poems Today. Tracy isn't a flashy or loquacious writer, but her work is frank and honest, which is way more important. A lot of her poems do what the best Patsy Cline songs did: convey multiple feelings at once. There's sexual tension and desire, yes, but there's also loneliness and longing and wanting and, at intervals, an indifference born of strange confidence. She's talking to the reader, as opposed to at them.

Liz Bamford's short story collection, The Nature of Things, doesn't deal with sex directly, but sexual language is repurposed for metaphor and imagery quite a bit, and rather well. Bamford's work has spots of Lovecraft in it, but with a Neil Gaiman-ish dry British humor to offset the gloom, and her narrative structures expand and contract like an accordion; she wields wonderful control over how and when her stories unfold. Good stuff.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to writing things where no sex happens at all because I'm weird.