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reading tiger

In Which I Admit My Obsessions

I am circling around the issue of women, death, and agency. Over and over again. I am clearly obsessed. In an artistic way, I mean. Those of you close to me know what I'm talking about. I mean, it's become pretty obvious in my writing over the past few years.

Recently I have decided to stop tiptoeing around this fact and stare my little obsession in the eye. I am thinking of it as a small, fluffy dog. With a rather chipper bark. I am going to put it in my bag and carry it with me for a while.

I have also decided to talk about it in public. A little. I hate talking about my actual work, what I am working on, in public, so this is a big step. (We can talk about stuff I've completed all you want. I may not have anything particularly enlightening to say, though.) But this isn't talking about what I'm working on, this is talking about the background stuff that informs what I'm working on.

So! In that vein, let's take a brief look at women writers and suicide. Surely we must start with Vice Magazine. I cannot bring to your attention the original controversial fashion spread, since it's been taken down, but I can link you to Jezebel's reprint and discussion here.

And let's not neglect Terry Castle's astonishingly awful review in the New York Review of Books of a couple of Sylvia Plath biographies, here -- the one where Castle decides to slut-shame Plath and tut-tut her suicide. (The latter is a touchy subject with me, she said understatedly. Suicide is awful to be sure, but for the survivors' sakes, don't ever fucking do that.)

Here's another, more interesting one, an interview with Kevin Kanarek about his mother, Pamela Moore. I think the part I want to highlight here is this quote:

"For me, the VICE fashion spread exemplified (without exploring) the viewpoint that women writers—women writers who kill themselves—are somehow perpetually on display, or even on trial. They must answer for their art and their final act against the world and their husbands and children, born and unborn.

In that courtroom, Hemingway gets off without any jail time."

And now we are full circle for this post. More soon, I'm sure.