I once had a fight after school with a girl called Lorna. No idea, now, why it started. Word had spread and a crowd was ready and waiting. We did our best to rip each other apart. One of the male teachers split it up and gave us detention.
– Nice girls don’t fight,
– Nice girls don’t need to fight.
(Years later, at my therapist’s)
– I see,
– how did it feel, to rip… Lorna?… apart?
– It felt… great!
– It felt nice to be angry?
–To let yourself go?
– When was the last time you felt that good?
(from Verses Nature (The Memoir Of A Lonely Hotwife) vol.2: Your Joy Is Your Own. Image: Ralph Evans)
from the author:
What is a novel? What is a genre? What does it mean to read? How do I read? How am I a reader? What do I expect from myself and from the author?
For each of these questions, there is no straightforward answer. Not for me. It’s time we recovered from our assumptions. The open-ended structure of Verses Nature refuses to play to such assumptions, soliciting instead various levels of surprise.
Whooah… what the…?
Readers find themselves having to reposition, to redefine and thus relocate themselves in new narrative/interpretive spaces. The intention is to agonize the reader so that she accepts that the novel is out of my hands and becomes her responsibility:
– If the reader fails to see my female protagonist, Carmina, in all her complexity, seeking instead to reduce her to a woman whose racial profile is more pronounced so that she fits ready-made (and white-ordained) notions of blackness, this reader must accept the responsibility for her expectation and hopefully interrogate why this expectation exists in the first place. Someone asked me – very kindly, of course – to make Carmina’s racial profile more identifiable. In other words: blacker. Hell, no! She’s not a pizza where you get to choose the toppings. If she’s black enough for me, why isn’t she black enough for you? Why do you need her to be so other? This person asked for more racial profile and I wrote the above scene. It has nothing to do with race. Will this person dare to insist on a blacker Carmina or will they, finally, get the point?
– If the reader is not always given a clear point of entry into a text, but must decide for herself where she must place her eyes on the page and where to go from there, this reader must accept responsibility for how she makes meaning from the text.
– If the reader finds herself constantly rethinking, renaming the place this work occupies (is it a novel? Is it erotica? Is it feminist literature?), then because I have not alleviated her of the responsibility to decide for herself what she wants to see. This reader must acknowledge, by virtue of her doubts, that such classification is not quiet, but always on the move. Not silent, but noisy.
By deliberately writing a work with numerous dynamic interfaces and by testing out the various levels and limits of their co-existence in my mind and in that of the reader, the Verses Nature trilogy hopes not only to give you a damn good read (it’s very high in the amazon charts, so thank you!), but equally to make a valuable contribution to ongoing discussions about the properties of the novel and representations of the self.