Two "stories" on the board -- as I call the "recommended list" at Fictionaut -- one a poem the other an essay -- both of which I praised and faved, the poem especially, say that the theme or motif of women as victims, especially of rape, proliferates in literary writing.
I am a fiction reader at Drunken Boat and I read or have read submissions for years at MSS., Mad Hatters' Review, and Women Writers: a Zine. I sat in many workshops, especially fiction workshops, yet I cannot think of many examples of stories that treated this theme, well or poorly.
A year ago or so there was a story, submitted to Drunken Boat, written by a man, that was forwarded to me for a second opinion -- I was not its first randomly-assigned reader -- that the assistant fiction editor (a woman) found offensive to read, despite its evident merit. The story was a first-person account of a boy who is learning about sex, partly in privacy by looking at men's magazines, and partly in consort with other boys. The story is lyrical and picks up grit until a day, and the boys form a cloud of boys and go to sack, to gang rape, the sister of one of them in her bedroom after school. The story was ... great. I mean, I felt that I hadn't seen anything quite like it. Maybe it owed something to Barry Hannah, but it seemed purer, more real or sincere, less jaded or cult defended. I had the feeling that the story had gone through many revisions because there was nothing wrong with it as a piece of writing, except, according to the assistant editor, what it was about. She feared if DB published it, it would suggest a glorification of rape. I typed-in my recommendation to publish it, not to censor it. I said that as a writer who at 25 had attempted a novella about a harmed girl who grows up and goes on, without commitment to her partner (published 25 years later in Thrice Fiction as "In a Basket"), that the man's short story came as a relief. Later, without asking directly about its outcome in the editing hierarchy, I checked for it, but didn't find it in the magazine or the archives. I don't remember the writer's name. I didn't note it. The file in my queue got zipped as soon as I had replied to it. He's out there somewhere. The story exists.
I read in workshop at Houston a short story by Mary Ferraro, an unforgettable one set on the water in Florida, about near rape and near drowning in escape. To state that about it doesn't take away the need for the story. I don't know if the story was later published. No story I know stakes it better than it does.
Roxane Gay is a contender. Mavis Gallant wrote one called "My Heart is Broken." Hemingway's "Up in Michigan," that we referred to in our dialogue about Gertrude Stein's term "inaccrochable" at the Matchbook group at Fictionaut, was his first published story. I had not read it before that. It's good. It's good but not as good as I had counted on it to be, not as good as Hemingway gets. I could imagine the bravery or bright cocksuredness it might have taken to start there. Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People."
I ended up not teaching fiction writing and I read very few novels, not never, but not lately, for years, so maybe that -- in workshop and novels -- is where the proliferation of victim writing -- writing that swings but doesn't nail it -- has been taking place. That is a question.
I did rewrite this but ended up not characterizing very well in the first paragraph (above) how the poem and the essay achieve their statements about it. They do it better.
Thanks so much Ann for posting this. It is a shame that the story never was published. I don't believe in censorship of writing but I guess every magazine editor has what they are comfortable printing and what they are not.
You know I write about atrocities in the world from the standpoint of the victims.
I get comments such as: How can you be so morbid or write about violence etc... The list goes on and on from people or I get and I quote,"There she goes again." This drives me totally insane! These things happen in the world so why can't a writer write about it. We hear horrible things on the news and read it in the newspaper everyday or have been in some of those countries. I worked with refugees from El Salvador who fled the civil war and let me tell you, what they told me was horrible. There were rapes, body parts being hacked and people shot point blank.
I could go on here.... (I write about this)
I think to write victim novels/poetry you must tell it like it is. There will be always people who will read it and many won't because of the subject matter. All I know is it has to be written very well. Not everyone can master this.
I have trouble with some MFA programs because they teach in my opinion "formula writing."
I should clarify this statement. There are many good teachers that teach in MFA programs also. Many are my friends who don't teach this way. There is always the good with the bad. If victim writing is going to be taught well, hopefully it will be taught by someone who knows what they are doing.
I better end this because I am writing a book here but I had to type in my thoughts.
Mary Gaitskill's essay in Harper's in 1994 (March 1994) and her writing in general, her ideas in interviews, stories, interrogate the subject.
On Not Being a Victim:
I have little quarrels in my head with Gaitskill's essay, still, years after first reading it. Sometimes I imagine that there is a space shuttle and a few of our artifacts will go up in it to last for the future. "On Not Being a Victim" may be one of those, the best example, not fiction, of how to tell the story, as it relates to many and different stories, that there is, to date.
It is a great piece of writing that stinks and sweats and groans a bit as it gets to its elegant points. The two rapes she documents, the first by definition "statutory" the second not described, she revisits. She doesn't use the word "statutory" or suggest it in an opinionated way. On the Internet, there are "anti-misandrists," including one who seems to have posted the entire text of her copyrighted essay at his blog, who feel that Gaitskill is on their side, that "rape" revolves around politics and mass groups of people, commenting and stonewalling simultaneously. The strategy of her essay is to tell a personal history. That is the hardest and best task.
Cherise Wolas' longer story that began as "In the Lake" about sexual initiation between two sisters, one older, is great.
When I wrote "In a Basket" in 1987, there was no Internet and I didn't fact check it: The story opens with what would be a statutory rape if it took place in the United States, but it takes place in Spain. It was not until 2009 or so that I checked legal ages of consent in European countries. Spain's is lowest, with varying degrees from 14-17. It was fictional luck, not fiction research, that led to the beginning. The novella (now an 8,000-word story) doesn't treat the opening sex scene, that involves the girl's loss of virginity, as rape, and the girl, who says something later about it to her mother, takes blame for it as sex. I have never been to Spain.
Vanessa Place is a conceptual poet who works as a criminal defense attorney. She has offered as writing court documents and testimonies from real rape cases. There is no emotion or opinion in it. You as reader provide that. It is story stripped almost bare of rhetoric, the facts, m'am.
You can read more about her here:
Gloria, thanks for commenting. I hope to hear more and read more. The victim point of view is difficult to write because as a culture we reverence action not passion. That was my graduate thesis.
Thanks, Ann, for posting a link to Vanessa Place’s website. It was great to read Place’s Statement of Facts. The reader has to provide the real force in the story. It made me think of Robert Bresson’s filming method – stripping each actor of emotion – sometimes shooting a scene scores of times – until the acting is absolutely flat. The viewer is forced then to create connect to connect with the story and fill the space. Once I learned how to watch a Bresson film, I realized just how involved with a story a viewer can/should be. His films are intense when the viewer connects. That’s exactly the way I felt reading Place’s work. That was marvelous.
The frank depiction of the brutal, violent acts that result in victimhood seems to be in disfavor in 'literay' circles. But when victimhood is trivialized in this way... by ignoring the utter mindlessness, the cruelty, the brutality of the act itself, the picture is skewed, unimaginably so.
If you cannot depict the cruelty that exists in the act, how can you adequately express the harm that befalls a victim? It's a concept of relative effect, the expression of one requires the depiction of the other in equal terms.
I don't mean to be critical of the writing extant in literary magazines today, because it may be due more to a shift in editorial discrimanation based on universal matters of taste, but I sometimes feel that I can get from them a better understanding of how it feels to be dissed by a barista than to be the victim of rape or war. Maybe that's sarcasm, but I've stopped reading some literary journals I respected in the past because the content clearly illustrates this trend of avoidance in literature. I don't know where it comes from, perhaps the idea that avoidance of violence is good for me or makes me a better human being.
It's as though there is an uncomfortable 'other' that we must learn to avoid in our thoughts and in art. However, ignoring uncomfortable reality doesn't make our world safer, only smaller.
Interesting connection to the filmmaker, Sam, between Place's conceptualism and Bresson's role of the audience.
JLD, food for thought. I like the counterexample to rape and war of a narrator dissed by a barista. "Ignoring uncomfortable reality doesn't make our world safer, only smaller."
In Louise Redd's second novel, Hangover Soup, there is a shocking violent scene, told from the point of view of the the narrator, who is being attacked. The novel is so good. Not only is it layered in its themes, it is told in a generative first-person, not limited, as first person can be.
"I don't know where it comes from"
Politically-correct academic BS from the age of 4 on would be my guess.
Matt, that's my personal assessment as well but I usually get in trouble when I say things like that. Novels are, or seem to be, somewhat safe from the ostrich disease.
I haven't done a body count for my latest WIP, but it is probably rather high due to the subject matter. I can say, with some certainty, that no matter how well it's written, no matter that it's perspectives use literary exposition (for effect rather than 'literary' acceptance)... I doubt it will be published by a university press.
I had to think about Matt's comment, "Politically-correct academic BS from the age of 4 on would be my guess" as a reply to JLD's statement, "I don't know where it comes from," referring to literary journals' avoidance of "uncomfortable reality" (rape and war).
Then I had to think about JLD's reply to Matt, "That's my personal assessment as well but I usually get in trouble when I say things like that."
I mean, what would be wrong in "getting in trouble" if you were doing it in service as a writer? What does Matt mean and what does JLD mean by "politically correct"? Do they mean, in this exact mention of it, the same thing?
I feel that "political correctness" is a social force, that probably has an American connotation, that is more evident in certain geographical regions of the country or world than in others or in certain "quarters" and "spheres." It is not only academic. (I live in Minneapolis where the culture has seemed to be, socially, notably politically correct.) In Texas, I didn't notice it as a pressure, the feeling that anything one might say or write could result in p.c. scrutiny, but in Minneapolis, I have felt it. When I did used to ponder it: Why do people complain about p.c. pressure?, I thought in effect, they were complaining about "being polite," and, to me, that did not seem right. P.C. has consequences for writers different than those for rednecks at a bar or employees in the workplace or members of a religion. It exerts a pressure that can be useful for writers, as long as they are in keeping with p.c.'s grounding in humane consideration of all human beings, to know where the story is.
Heather Fowler's essay now on the recommended list at Fictionaut begins with V.S. Naipauls' comment(s), that became instantly famous last year, that he has not found greatness in the works of women writers. Maybe Naipaul is not p.c. His comment(s) in that situation apparently were not. Let's say he is not p.c. Let's say that he is not in agreement with showing humane consideration for all human beings regardless of their circumstances at birth or with not showing disrespect for human beings based on their circumstances at birth. Let's say that Naipaul (a Nobel laureate) writes without sharing those as his beliefs. His beliefs, as invested in literature and complex -- I do not really know his work -- still have produced literature, and his life an interesting subject for biography. There is a kind of outburst or hidden story that challenges kinds of authority, including, as it may be, P.C. The writer who tries to portray a victim's story has to go against a current that may go against p.c. Both situations may create a pressure on or within the story.
Ann, to be sure, although I avoid discussion of the PC equation in discussions, I've never been affected by the implied pressure in my writing and would write a piece that goes against the grain of political correctness in a Hong Kong minute...
At this stage of my life, I have begun to view PC as a reaction to socially accepted attitudes that were hostile to ethnic and racial social differences that existed before a new generation of academics achieved hegemony following the cultural revolution of the 1960's.
I grew up around racism and religious bias in the South, in the late 40's and 50's, suffered from it to some extent, so I viewed this intellectual leap grounded in acceptance, tolerance, open-mindedness, or whatever you want to call it, as a good thing, and still do. However, like the concept of 'blowback' we attribute to social and political movements, 'political correctness' has acheived a level of intolerance in our culture that sometimes mirrors the social exclusivity it supposedly supplanted... or so I believe.
It has a crippling affect on our literature when editors and publishers, like their puritanical grandfathers who happily censored such 'dangerous' works such as James Joyce's Ulysses, have begun to establish a similar attitude toward anything that runs against the established standards of academic propriety. (i.e. removal of the 'n' word from Huckleberry Finn)
I'm not a firebrand or a revolutionary. Just a writer. I value my freedom.
Do you think, JLD, that removal of the "n" word from Huckleberry Finn will be a temporary provision, one that affects young readers today and their future memories of it, that could revert (to publishing it as Twain wrote it) in the future?
JLD, earlier you wrote that portrayals of violence that result in death of a character (murder or killing) are not "politically correct" or generally favored in literary publishing. I understand cultural p.c. but your first observation seems more about aesthetic bias.
Could someone more qualified than I please say a few words, if possible in this thread, try to address, the condition or position of, and/or the desire to portray, victims-as-witnesses and/or witnesses-as-victims of racism against people of color, female and/or male, in contemporary writing and literature?
What happens when non-Hispanic writers of European or Caucasian descent ("whites") try to write about racism against people of color from a person-of-color point of view rather than from a cultural p.o.v. more like their own? Or when men try to write from a female point of view about female victimization or to describe female (compared to male) levels of sanity?
How and when and where do contemporary writers not of color and/or women succeed in portraying culturally second-hand experiences from a first-person or intimate point of view?
That was difficult to write (to phrase those questions that way).
Ann, I think that over time, the aesthetic is profoundly affected by the sociological mores of the people who control the media (say... editors and publishers who impose their personal aesthetics to the 'product). Labels are a bias of their own and in discussion, can become a trap... a 'point' rather than a definition. Labels are often misunderstood.
Victim can be a label, and in my circles or experience, it has a negative connotation. Perpetrator has a negative connotation as well, more specifically a criminal one. I hear victim spoken more than perpetrator. Victim can be a point of fact, as in a crime, there is a victim, a term for a person that is transient, not the basis for identity. A victim in a mugging may be less likely to experience deep or personal blame for it than a victim in a rape. Target is sometimes a word I use as a noun or verb to get around the negative terms for victim, but if the idea is there, it will not work. Ideally, the word I use would liberate and accurately demonstrate cause and effect. Getting mugged may not result in a syndrome of victimization (seeing many things as following from that). The condition of being a victim may be, in fiction, a type of narration or even a style or point of view. P.C. itself has a negative connotation, but what leads to it does not, the desire for social or economic justice, for example, or equality or peace or unity.
Tough subject; great post. Victimhood is so important in contemporary fiction that it has become its own genre. I call it victim fiction; fairly easy to spot, and published by great magazines. The best example I ever saw was a piece in Iowa Review, I'm going to say, 6 years ago entitled Daily Double - a woman with cancer goes to the racetrack. You need cancer to go to the racetrack? Why not go to the racetrack without cancer and just tell us what happened? Writing like this follows a standardized progression - Step A wound the narrator in some way, or give the narrator some kind of deadly disease. This will engender reader sympathy and support. Step B create a crisis, ie, gambling at the racetrack in order to hopefully pay off medical bills. Step C have the narrator persist through, conquer the crisis, and magically win something big. This is known as reader payoff. Step D. Create an ambiguous ending that allows the victim to beat the odds and rejoice inwardly. Step E use lots of beautiful words so that, bereft of a human story, the language becomes the story. Step F. Send story to the Iowa Review.
RTB, it has proved a little difficult to find the story "Daily Double" in the Iowa Review archive. I wanted to read it to see if I agree with you that "cancer" in the story seems gratuitous.
If you notice, reader(s) of this thread, I have cited examples of stories related to the theme or motif that succeed as art.
The most vivid "image" that has emerged, since I started writing these topics here, is of the opening paragraph of Vanessa Place's "Statement of Facts." It seems almost indistinguishable from a scene depicting sex (that would be legal, i.e., by consent of both partners) except the very beginning:
"On January 17, 1997, Dorothy C. was living alone on Vista Avenue, in Long Beach; she went into her bedroom between 11:00 and 12:00 p.m., without giving anyone permission to enter her home. As she was preparing for bed, a man came up from behind, grabbed her arms, and told her to cooperate and she wouldn’t get hurt. The man, wearing a navy blue ski mask, forced ... "
How is the image of the man in the court document that Place cites different from the image of the man in my poem, "This is Why I Loved You," that Pia Ehrhardt rediscovered today at Fictionaut, in lines that quite a few readers, women in particular (and I agree if it means they like them), noted:
Your staggering toward me
in your navy mugger's cap
in a werewolf dementia
(I loved you and would have shown it to the moon)
The rest of the first paragraph that Place cites from court documents reads as follows:
"her onto her bed, removed her underwear and orally copulated her, stopping periodically to talk. If Dorothy C. began crying, the man would threaten her again; at some point, he put his mouth on Dorothy C.’s breasts and neck, and asked her to put his penis in her mouth. She orally copulated him, a minute later, he turned her over and put his penis in her vagina, ejaculating outside the vagina one to five minutes later. (RT 798-801, 803-804)"
A little dry in style, but, as I said, vivid, the most vivid scene or passage that has emerged from my reading or rereading or remembering for this thread.
JLD states (above):
"The frank depiction of the brutal, violent acts that result in victimhood seems to be in disfavor in 'literay' circles. But when victimhood is trivialized in this way... by ignoring the utter mindlessness, the cruelty, the brutality of the act itself, the picture is skewed, unimaginably so.
"If you cannot depict the cruelty that exists in the act, how can you adequately express the harm that befalls a victim? It's a concept of relative effect, the expression of one requires the depiction of the other in equal terms."
Yet because Dorothy C. lived alone and had not given anyone permission to enter her home, it is not sex or rough sex or fantasy sex or S/M that she has with the man, but is rape, something she realizes. In a further paragraph, as soon as the man leaves, she calls the rape hotline.
Here is the link to Vanessa Place's "Statement of Facts," published as conceptual writing by Ubu Editions:
Margaret Atwood's 1977 short story, "Rape Fantasies," is well-documented online. Here is one link to a description of it:
"Rape Fantasies" has its own Wikipedia entry:
anyone who has written scripts can quickly recognize when a screenplay first starts to flail and grasp, when the story loses legs--last night in stunned fascination i watched a psycho teen slasher film hit the wall, with 50 minutes of film left--so the desperate writer did what my desperate first year students try on--had his lead character "awaken" & realize first 40 minutes of film was "all a dream" and then deliver a blubbery monologue about her father sexually abusing her from tot-hood--all the cliches were there--"daddy no, it hurts! he said it would be our secret! He took off his belt..." I mean, bad art is immoral because it exploits and trivializes the abuses of reality and good art may be about slaughter, matricide, infanticide, incest, gang rape, and do repair, not damage... cult-of-the-victim lit exists, but owns no values, good or bad---execution determines all
"Victims are not just satisfied with the proof, they need a judicial proof."
Argentina: Paying for the sins of the past
What Can Latin American Countries learn from Argentina's punitive approach?
JR's statement: "I mean, bad art is immoral because it exploits and trivializes the abuses of reality and good art may be about slaughter, matricide, infanticide, incest, gang rape, and do repair, not damage." *
What are my feelings about imprisoning those found guilty of sexual crimes? Doesn't it seem that these are "example" crimes and only a small percentage are solved or tried? Isn't there a social tolerance for soft crimes' taking place, related to tolerance for sex itself, as long as it remains private or hid? Extended to victims, someone's former girlfriend or new girlfriend or sister or lover (a man when he was a boy) or friend, unless impatience with a victim's disorder wins? And to the losers/cads/usurpers who are not caught? And to the ones behind bars who are locked? My feeling is: I hate prisons. I wish they were not needed. In life, a man or woman tells a story about early or later victimization and leaves out the name of who did it. In life, a woman loses custody of her children, though her husband was violent, and she leaves out the name of the judge. In fiction, the one or ones who intimidate or dominate go free for the rest of the story.
"Victims are dangerous," a woman in A.A. said. Her husband was verbally abusive and cheated on her with men. The last time I saw her, at a church on a weekday, she was getting a divorce. She said, "We have the house but no savings or anything. There goes fifteen years. I guess I shouldn't have married a gay man."
Interesting thread. As fiction writers, I suppose we're basically making it up. The horrible things in life are maybe really only experienced by being experienced .. imagining them is a poor simulation.
A clinical press account of a rape or a murder comes closer to the truth, in my view, than any fictional imagining. Fictionalising such material runs counter to our intuition that we can't understand what we haven't experienced.
But I think the real problem is art. Art destroys much of the authenticity of what it attempts to describe.
As an example, Pasolini used a flat, understated style in describing low life in his novel A Violent Life. Whatever authenticity he achieved there he lost when he moved to film. That may seem a strange thing to say, but in Accatone the emotional power was so increased by poetic devices that we can say that the entire thing was a simulation - the product of a poet. Possibly we can say that of all art - and there is your problem.
Eamon, excellent comment, insight reflective instead of reactive. Thank you for adding.
When a story becomes 'authentic', or plugged into the stamp of authenticity by an author's personal experience, it may be called fiction, but perhaps it's not. Nonetheless, if the author calls it fiction, then fiction it is.
"Write what you know" as a dictum applied to fiction seems properly absurd simply on its face.
It reminds me of the playful sarcasm expressed by a put-down from the sixties that went, "Yeah, baby, you have to be from Scarsdale to know how bad things really are."
Point being that the emotional response to brutality is more prevalent in a world of safe, secure, and 'whitebread' culture. Victimhood becomes the 'princess and the pea' syndrome in upper-middle-class suburbia while in the 'ghetto' it's something like 'What? Is that the best you got?'
The difference between 'real' and inauthentic writing is maybe too complex and too dependent upon the skill of the author to be subject to even suggestion, much less universal rules.
It is fiction we're talking about, ultimately.
JLD, stereotyping produces annoyance and is uninteresting and is no good substitute for Hemingway's advice.
I contacted Padgett Powell whose work I appreciate almost ecstatically. His book, The Interrogative Mood: a Novel?, set me free during a long, perplexing hiatus from reading book-length narrative. I had heard him mention in class a concept related to fiction writing he calls the Top Forty and in my email asked if I could quote his teaching on it in this thread. Here is his reply:
"The Top 40 is, I don't think, from Donald Barthelme, but de moi. Though he certainly would have abjured it as well. What I refer to is the top topical concerns of the day, some of which are perennial. Some of these these days are called "hot-button" issues. They are the large, more or less political, generally emotional topics that when written about by amateurs tend to dominate the writing to the exclusion of the characters, who it turns out are there to play the necessary roles for the political or emotional debate to obtain. Today a story opening up about, say, the individual mandate would raise a giant red flag: a political argument is coming, not a story. And on down the line: veterans returning from Iraq (will they need support? Yes they will! Will they be accorded the respect they as heroes deserve? No!), abortion, child abuse, incest in the trailer, suicide when dumped by the teen angel, racial insensitivity, the plight of the handicapped . . . it goes on, often discovering new venues that nonetheless are distinguished by being essentially a position for advocacy for, or against, one cause or another. The Top Forty can in fact comprise anything that is not really about real people doing the things they would do as people as opposed to politicians of greater or lesser degree.
"This is a difficult thing to state once you start trying and I have effed it up as usual. But this is the drift. To some extent a story is at risk of Top Fortying if it can be said of it that it is 'about' any given thing.
"I may have attributed the concerns to Barthelme but if I did I have forgotten it came from him. At any rate I don't think he'd have said Top Forty. That is my own unhandy sobriquet. It means, as it does on the radio, the most popular sentimental concerns of the day, in snappy easy-to-digest forms."
Ann, that's a bit dismissive, but I'll leave it there. Have fun.
Padgett Powell on the Top 40 here (last comment on the first page of this thread).
JLD, I have lived in suburbs and near ghettos.
To you, fighting may be fun. As you write, "Have fun." I feel it causes grief.
Your understanding that suburbs are inhabited by "princess-and-the-pea victims" is wrong. Princess clearly suggests female. White bread suggests European (non-Hispanic) ancestry. The story of the pea under the mattress suggests false suffering. The story entails complaining of false suffering and suggests an absence (impossibility?) of real suffering; real suffering you suggest only exists in the (non-European ancestry) ghetto and manifests as competition over what suffering is.
Does it make sense that I would address you, state in an argument, why I think you are wrong? Or why I would assume that you have never lived in a suburb (or ghetto) meeting that description because no suburb (or ghetto) that meets that description exists? How could you have lived in a non-European ancestry ghetto? Then try to characterize to you by way of polemic who does live there and what their social directives and mores are and to whom they report or obey?
Isn't it the main thesis of this thread that story in fiction is the best way to show cause and effect, though it is unlikely that amateur writers will realize that way?
Does it make sense that I would pose these questions to you outside agreement on what story is?
Ann, I think you misread my earlier posting as some kind of personal attack. It most certainly wasn't. I won't say anything else since it would probably only add to the confusion. There's no fight on my end.
I like Eamon's take - especially with regards to Pier Paolo Pasolini. Great point. I realize the notion that art destroys, and the proof is that art, by its very nature, is artificial – and must be. Another view – and one that I absolutely connect with – is that art is the ideal, and it is our approach to, reflection of, or retelling of the ideal that is destructive. We can approach it, describe portions of it – but can never duplicate it, can never fully arrive.
Krzysztof Kieślowski was once asked how much of the story that was in his head made it to film – and, if I'm remembering this correctly, he said maybe as much as 30%. If he could get that much to film, he was happy.
I like repetition in Gertrude Stein but not in my writing to JLD at this thread.
JLD: "Ann, that's a bit dismissive, but I'll leave it there. Have fun."
I did not misread. I replied at greater length, though I did not enjoy it (i.e., "have fun" at it), because you stated that I had been "a bit dismissive" (of your argument as stereotyping inhabitants of suburbs and ghettos). I do believe you were stereotyping and I do not believe that stereotyping trumps Hemingway's "write what you know."
Gina Apostolo read from an editor's preface (signed by Estrella Espejo, Diliman, December 17, 2004) to The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata at the Sunday Salon Series on June 24:
"The scholar was an unshaved blonde, the kind one often meets at academic conferences. She was expounding on independence movements as macroscopic examples of aggressivity in the analysand, while she fondled some frangipani and picked through the pectorals of a Peking duck. It struck me, as she manhandled vertebrae and munched on the fronds, or vice versa, that academic blondes are aggressive bores."
Also from the preface:
"Typically, the revolutionist’s memoir emerges when the hero is beyond innocence—when the dream is dead. The gap between the irreducible (the mad flipflop fever, the trauma that cannot be spoken) and the speech that cradles it (unnaturally chronological, with suspicious clarity, and kelloids of rancor garnished by footnotes) is only natural. After all, as the blonde [blond] scholar said, and I quote with disgust: 'the gap between language and reality is the bane of the human condition.' ”
Gina Apostol (Apostol is the correct spelling) also read from her novel, Gun Dealer's Daughter, W.W. Norton, July 2012:
Gun Dealers' Daughter is the correct title.