2003-04-03 - 10:24 p.m.
:::brushes aside the crapola for second::::
I just got back from hearing Carole Maso do a reading. She so amazing. What she does with rhythms and structures just blows my mind. I first fell in love with her stuff through her book, "Defiance."
As Amazon describes it...
>>Harvard physics professor Bernadette O'Brien lies in a Georgia prison cell, awaiting execution for the murder of two students, killings that were performed as the culmination of intricate sexual ensnarements. As she prepares to die, Bernadette writes her life story in a notebook. That is the plot of Defiance... but this is not a novel that can be reduced to its plot; Carole Maso, in fact, repeatedly undermines efforts to glide through a straightforward narrative, plunging readers into the mind of her narrator. The novel's power comes not from its events, although those are certainly jarring enough, but from the ways in which those events are filtered through Bernadette's perspective--the juxtapositions of childhood traumas, mathematical puzzles, and cynical death row reflections (more than a few of which are inspired by the well-meaning social worker assigned to her case: "Not another stereotype at this late date. Please no."). Playing with various forms--symbolic logic, self-help literature, and sexual fantasy, among others--Maso takes a lurid tale and transforms it into a stunning glimpse into the mind of a woman who became a killer without, for all her sarcastic and unrepentant bravado, ever quite ceasing to be a victim. --Ron Hogan<<<
Then I found her book Aureole... and the timing of that discovery couldn't have been better. See that Amazon review:
>>Carole Maso's Aureole is a brilliant, fragmented, overtly sexual novel of an American woman coming to terms with her sexuality, her lesbianism and her erotic relationship to the world. Maso's early work like Ghost Dance were precise, sophisticated linear narratives that explained how the world worked. She has been moving towards a highly personal and impressionistic style in AVA and The American Woman in the Chinese Hat that explains, through innovative use of language and cadence, how the world feels. Aureole is a textured, linguistic and measured journey in which Maso makes us experience the sound and taste of the word itself with an eroticism of language that is as sensual and tactile as touch itself.<<<
She said tonight that Aureole is a book before plot or characters enter it.
She said that she writes to music because her father was a jazz musician who never talked to her. She tries to make him listen by setting her words to rhythms.
She said she never knows how anyone finds time to write. So she writes in short bursts constantly and hopes they all fit together somehow. She said she repeats things to make them stick in people's minds or to inform the meaning in some underlying way. She said she cried today because she realized that by making the choice to write, she's cut out so many other choices in her life. She wants to learn how to walk with a basket on her head. There are so many things that she'll never get to do, but that writing allows her to come close to doing. To set her words down next to others' experiences.
While she talked I thought of a thousand new things I want to write. I thought of stories and experiences and words. I thought about what words can do and do do and what I can make them do now and what I can make them do in the future after I keep practicing.
I love playing with words. I love seeing what *else* words will do. I love using words and moving words around. I love seeing what words I use and what words other people use. I love to watch words dance. Or sit really really.
In a corner.
I never understand really what draws me so closely to Carole Maso's work. From the moment I read her in 1998 though, I've held her as closely as I could. I've carried her books around with me just to have them. I can recite passages from her book "The Ghost Dance." When asked my favorite book, I say, "Defiance." When asked my favorite author, I say "Dorothy Allison and Carole Maso."
And tonight I stood in front of her. Pretty sheepishly. I embarrass more easily than I like to think that I do. I turned bright red. And she signed her newest book for me,
"To Cubegirl. Yours in the light, Carole Maso."