Issue 146 | July 2014
But there is a difference between parents challenging books and the Unites States federal government banning them. A challenged book isn't automatically removed from the public library, school library, or school curriculum. Even when a challenge is successful, it only affects the book in a specific school district or library system. A successful challenge can't stop a teenager, parent, or other citizen from buying the book, nor can it punish a bookseller for selling it, arrest a citizen for distributing it, or prevent the post office from delivering it. Another story of Ulysses is the story of "banning" becoming "challenging."
"We tried YA first and got several responses where people would say, 'These gay characters are such negative stereotypes, I know gay people and they don't act like that!' It was this straight person's response of wanting the queer people to be perfect and normal, and being terrified by the fact that there are shitty queers in the book. I would say that all the people in the novel, across the board, act in shitty ways (or, you know, human). Those responses irritated me because it's people trying to whitewash depictions of any type of minority. They're saying, 'I want diversity, but only this kind of diversity.'"
"I think among white people, certainly white middle class people (it would be interesting to look into whether this would apply to other non-white middle class groups in the United States), there's just not a lot of practice -- for lack of a better word -- talking about race. To show that you're not a racist person has somehow also become synonymous with showing your class status: you don't say certain things, and you don't talk about race openly. To start naming, saying some of these things out loud makes white people uncomfortable, and maybe other groups, too. It potentially jeopardizes their class status, as well as the value or the type of whiteness they are."
From here Mabel falls in love and want again and again, with men and women and causes, also back and forth into depressions, painting herself not as an unquiet mind but as a lady struggling with focus against “the whole ghastly social structure.” She moves back to New York, where she knows and hosts Gertrude Stein (“She exhaled a vivid steam”), Emma Goldman (“a severe but warmhearted schoolteacher”), and Margaret Sanger (“She made love into a serious undertaking”). Mabel helps fund Isadora Duncan’s dancing school in Croton-on-Hudson, gives D.H. and Frida Lawrence a ranch. She never talks about money, she just has it. She writes about herself at length and heroically, autonomously.
"I used to think it was the taint of academia. You know, in the room the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo. And if you were serious, and why wouldn't you want to be, you had to tell us what the women were saying and why. What were their epistemological premises, their discursive deployment of meaning, their access to cultural capital. If you didn't show such seriousness, you were lightweight. Mere fluff. I've surrendered sometimes in my writing to the demand for explanation and meaning. But it's a chore."
It turns out there's a regrettable lacuna in current-day understanding concerning the Italian Futurist art movement in twentieth-century modernism. Early on in my initial reading, I was turned off from further exploring their ideas by the rampant associations with Italian Fascism combined with a general fervency regarding warfare, a broadly celebrated sexism, and a powerful dose of juvenile braggadocio, all primarily owed to the writings of Filippo Marinetti. Among even the most discerning of would-be interested parties, few perceive the Futurist agenda as sharing in any intention to awaken the dead and thereby liberate artistic endeavor. Yet this is exactly the sort of surprising revelation Chessa unveils in his book.
Patrick James Dunagan
"More often than not, Dorothy Parker is remembered for wisecracks she never said, or as a happy go lucky binger of dry martinis. I think it's safe to say that she would have found this reputation distasteful. Let's keep in mind that she was a brilliant writer -- and the only American author to bequeath her estate to a black civil rights leader."
"I find strong woman enormously interesting. I seem to have created an army of very strong women, be that physically, sexually, intellectually, or in any other facet of life. I think it began seriously when I wrote Natural Enemies, a book about being lost in the wilderness, where the woman is stronger than the man. The strength of women is also apparent in Barbara Rose. In a strange way, my female characters are historic since they exactly parallel the rise of women in the last fifty-odd years. Another odd fact is that my second novel dealt with the coming to terms of a father who discovers his son is homosexual, long before that issue came more alive in the American consciousness. I am definitely not into gender clichés; I definitely am into constantly exploration of what makes us 'us.'"
"There's a duality in everyone that we all accept to varying degrees. The least interesting way to frame this is good and evil; I like chaos and order better, or faith and science, town and wilderness, sea captain and whale, etc. I have always been great at compartmentalizing my town and my wilderness -- it's been my m.o. throughout my life. This is what lets me knit booties at a park playdate and then come home and write something horrifying or sexual. These are just compartments, and we all do this. Moms do it, everyone does it."