Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Set the house on fire.

This week is action-packed. I am going to focus on one thing at a time. That is my new thing, my biggest new thing: not being all over the place.

The first thing - the biggest thing, I retract my previous statement - is that I love, am all a-throb and heatedly and voraciously and viciously a fan of all the art that Kate Zambreno makes.

I like a lot of writing, I like the act of reading. I have a lot of books and I spend a harrowingly comparable amount of time reading writing online as well as in print. Of all the books I have, there is a shelving unit in my office where I have approximately five cubbies - there are twelve that make up the whole unit - filled with the books I find vital. A quick survey: Sylvia Plath is dead, Colette is dead, Anais Nin and the anonymous author of Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl. Anne Carson is still alive, and so is Carole Maso with two unreleased books in her queue, and Katherine Dunn had a story in the Paris Review this past year and that is all since Geek Love. Anna Kavan is dead, Kathy Acker is dead, Shirley Jackson, Clarice Lispector. AM Homes I won't buy another book from since she disowned authorship of the one I love. Mortality aside, of these, only three oeuvres get touted around by me fanatically, commitedly, inspire me endlessly: Plath, Carson and Kavan. When I read them I feel a constant yes. I feel at turns placated, understood, outdone in every capacity - it's all the other books, all the other stuff by everybody else that I read for a second, put away and write instead. When I read Plath, Carson and Kavan, it is all but then I saw the face of God and took the whole arm off.

Kate Zambreno is more important to me than them. It is different - I can enjoy an ultra-enmeshed relationship with reading Plath. I kept a copy of the Bell Jar - not my own copy - as a diary one year in college. But Kate Zambreno is making art that to me operates at that solar-white-blinding level of revelatory, and reading her - her blog, her fiction, her nonfiction - makes me feel the way I felt when I was fourteen, discovering Dennis Cooper. That was pivotal, discovering what fiction was capable of - but this was different, reading Kate Zambreno for the first time, discovering that fiction could be as staggeringly formed and speak to my experience. Which is to say: with Plath I feel the predilection for self-alienation, the apoplectic frustration with wording dread, Carson is distant and stellar and all the stuff about her father, ahhhh, and Kavan is void, the things that speak to her do so in a language that, in her translation, come across as paranoid and crazy, but her translation places her vulnerability to this, her mastery of this, at the forefront, and these are all important things to me, to see someone experience, but they are very different from me. And not that I am so insufferably singular - the experience of a girl who's been a teenage girl and been angry and had problems with the space she's occupied is pervasive and Kate Zambreno SINGS TO THAT.

One of my best friends and I went out to dinner and she told me about how, at her office, a female coworker constantly sexually harasses her, making the most audacious comments, and when my friend shut her down, there was an abrupt complaint to management that my friend dressed too provocatively. The next day, a male coworker made an unwanted advance, and when my friend, distraught, talked to one of her coworkers about it, this coworker advised her to just put up with it, since the recent managerial alert to her provocative dress would just prove that she was too much of a tart to let anyone get any work done. I told her: you need to read Kate Zambreno. This was my first impulse. This is the sign. This is all I want to do with art, that I can never do with art: say, with all conviction in every particle of my being: THESE WORDS HAVE THE POWER TO SAVE YOU.

And so when another of my best friends posted a Venn diagram marginalizing the work of Sylvia Plath that was constructed by the same individual who created one marginalizing Kate Zambreno, I - I did not say, I demonstrated, using the much more effective words of Kate and Jackie Wang how wrong that thinking is. Girl = emotional, girl = weak, girl = bad. I was repulsed. And I wanted to tell Kate Zambreno that she's my heroine, because I believe the work she does is important. And she has a book coming out this coming year called Heroines and it is the kind of book that I can't believe does not exist, that has to exist, that I am going to be giving to everyone I meet, as it looks like I might have a real, well-paying job soon it is really too soon to say and that is part of more news I plan on sharing in another post but so many books - the great great fucking miraculous King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes that really held me and rocked me gently after my college meltdown over how my paper on feminist writing and problems of autobiography turned into a grueling, graphic justification on why such a paper should exist, and Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy which frightens me constantly with how much I see its contents every day all around me - so many books I would like to turn everyone onto but Heroines is not just accurate or timely but VITAL. And Green Girl is coming out circa &Now when I will see Kate read and I am beside myself with excitement, for how it's all come together and I have a room and wonderful roommates and money and freedom to travel that I am celebrating with this trip. And I wanted to say something about this, and I did, and Kate had seen my tumblr, and thanked me, and said you are my heroine and linked my tumblr on her blog. And my hands are still shaking.

That is so cool.

My tumblr, my feelings about the form of the tumblr (which are lavish), and a lot of other news is forthcoming. So much. An avalanche.

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