The benefits of women taking and using their authentic voices to tell their stories from a place of authority are far-reaching and largely very positive. But when we box women writers into a selective space that disallows exploration of themes, subjects, and topics outside of memoir, we open the door to women writers only to shut them into the foyer.
Beginning, or just bad, memoirists often try to present themselves as ‘likeable’. Yet the more conflicted and honest about our flaws we are on the page, the more likely our stories are to appeal to readers. The most important thing is not to shy away from putting on the paper all those things we often hide in social interactions – those quirks that are unmistakably ours, the hidden thoughts and eccentricities that set us apart and show our most fundamental dilemmas.
How we approach a short story, any story, influences our interaction with the text, where pre-reading judgements affect the intercourse between the author and reader. My approach to this collection was of a reader expecting to notice characteristics of the archetypal short story. As I immersed myself into the act of reading, I experienced subtle and then significant movement from being resistant to being enticed by the author’s voice and style.
Davis has been called, dismissively, ‘a writer’s writer’s writer’, which gives the impression that her work exists somewhere on the ethereal edges of what can be enjoyed by the average person. It’s true that Davis’s prose is often very close to poetry in its meticulous attention to the verbal. But to dismiss this kind of writing as gratuitously abstruse, available only to other writers, is to ignore the true gift that Davis gives us in her work: the gift of noticing, or ‘vigilance’, as one of her Booker-prize judges called it.
This poem introduces the character Ichabod Storm Trouper, a composite personification of Revolutionary War era America with 1970s George Lucas blockbusterisation of Hollywood. He appears throughout the collection of poems California Sweet, someday forthcoming, in which this poem is a part of.
While houseplant culture is structured, in some ways, around highly conspicuous consumption (of pre-arranged pairings of designer pots and plants, sold at a suitable premium) and the chasing of trends, plants themselves can never be compelled to hold meaning in the way that man-made objects do. In a global marketplace teeming with functional alternatives, Warby Parker glasses or Nike sneakers or Gorman dresses gain, and threaten to lose, their cachet primarily based on what they signify – they are, as Patterson would put it, ‘complicated by questions of style’. Natural objects can never entirely fall in or out of fashion, in part because their forms both predate and will outlast us, and in part because they were never created ‘for’ us in the first place.
As a dual citizen of dual hemispheres, you have two homes and two sets of seasons that directly oppose one another. You pause to think whenever you write the month because it’s cool in July and hot in December and you’ve lost yourself a little, in everything you’ve gained… When you had bought the DNA analysis package, you found such a collage of peoples, your genomes revealed spirals of passports. You saw people who did not stay put, whose songs and love affairs laced the planet.