Ahoy! I have been remiss in updating this blog for the last couple of weeks. There hasn’t been much to report, 13-rue-Thérèse-wise, since the galleys have gone out. I hover in an anxious Limbo waiting for reviews to start coming in, trying desperately to keep my brain from chewing on itself. I’ve been reasonably successful at doing that by giving it In the Red to chew on instead. I have been working on this unyielding book. It is a very, very testy text but I think eventually some good will come of it. It is, as I am, obsessed with palimpsest. So, that is quite expected. What is less expected is that it has some pungent opinions about American capitalism. I couldn’t quite describe them as unqualifyingly negative; that would be too simplistic. Let’s just say the text is working on this problem.
The text also has a lot to say about wedding rituals. That imagery keeps cropping up all over the place. Ditto imagery about executions. The two sets of images are, of course, related. The link is not a new one–nevertheless there is something weird and compelling at work here. A preoccupation with ceremony. Symbolic clothes. Performed gestures.
Money. Not just as a concept, but as a physical object. The cloth-like weave of cash, the smell of it. The transfer through many hands. The stolid gazes of dead presidents.
There is less sex than I was expecting in this book. But in another way there is more sex than I was expecting. Again, difficult to explain. I should say: so far there has been less graphic description than I was anticipating about bodies doing what they do, but there is a sort of arrested attention in the gaze of the narrator on the world itself that is very sexual. Not emotional, but intense in a denuding way.
A trinity of men: Bad, Worse, and Worst. And the narrator doubles herself infinitely inside all the other female characters, inside allegorical dream figures. The narrator, the blasted creature named Irina with a name that doubles my own so obviously that it’s embarrassing. Last week the text introduced yet another double for her, a Russian mail order bride named Elena. The moment gave me pause. I looked at the book and said, really, you’re not serious. It smiled at me quietly. Radiantly. And I knew that this frail girl with my name will have to die, given all the execution images. How that I will happen I don’t know, but the destruction of her body is an inevitability.
So you want to symbolically walk me down a dark hallway and shoot me in the back of the neck, Soviet-style, hm? I said to the book as it showed me the pink dress with tulle overlay Elena had on at her quickie Vegas wedding, the delicacy of her collar bones, her heart-rending youth. You intend to kill me, do you? Well, then, kill me as many times as you like.
As long as you make something of it.