I am a moth to her intellectual flame. How do you recap a book where nearly every page is dog-eared from a mental fist-pump, “oh yeah!” ? Tupitsyn’s writing is poetic and precise, tackling the issue of women as image through a dreamscape of films, books, cafÃ©s, hours of solitude. She eviscerates when needed, taking down Jack Nicholson (“Jack infects women like salmonella bacteria… I hate creeps and Jack is the King.”), and circles in on the social ills of male-dominated society. This collection of nineteen essays/stories/forays plucks at the scab of patriarchy and pokes, examines. “I think (gay men) treat women better than straight men do. But ambivalence can do that.” Throughout, she rapturously describes the pleasures of reading and solitude, sometimes opening up relationships for us to bear witness. I’m in love with the entire chapter 16: Reading is a Nightmare; I’ll try to resist quoting the whole thing (“On Wednesday I go to San Francisco to read my book… Reading is what I do most of the time, so instead of doing something else entirely, I modify the environment in which I read. I don’t stop reading.” “Is being alone, like reading, my hobby too?”).
There’s something magical about this book. The humor, the cultural signposts. “Peter and I met the usual way. He barged into me while I was reading The Sorrows of Young Werther at a cafÃ©.” “Female aloneness by choice was so rare, it was almost a separate genre, a fantasy, science fiction. There was always some suspension of belief and some degree of sexual apocalypse involved.”
On writing (p 176):
When any body asks me what I write about, they don’t know what they want me to say and it sounds like I don’t know either. I don’t sound like I know what I’m thinking about when it comes to writing it down, but I’m doing the same thing (Kathy Acker) is (“I write to get it out of me. I don’t write it to remember it.”). I want to be a microscope over this shit and a needle too. I’m self-censoring to give other people an easier ride with me. I get quieter every year. I sound like less than I am.
On walking while reading (p 182):
Sometimes I walk while I read, or read while I walk. It makes me feel like I’m combining a daredevil sport with something geeky. That is, something physical with something physically, but not mentally, static. Or that what I’m doing gives me so much pleasure, I can’t stop doing it. I don’t want to. Not even to look where I’m going. Not even to see if I’m being looked at. I’ve only fallen once that way.
On being incessantly talked to while reading (p 154):
Reading on Sundays is really important to me… Though reading on Sundays is almost a religious ritual for me, my reading is diluted by the fact that I do it at noisy cafÃ©s. People often disregard that I’m reading because I’m seen doing it in a public place… which means I’m really waiting for someone to come and talk to me. Plus, I’m a girl. That always leaves the door wide open no matter how many things you use to close it. I’m talked to incessantly…. People have no respect for books, or they want to invade the space a book excludes. It was Goethe who said, “The decline of literature reflects the decline of a nation.” I use books as shields for all kinds of things… I rarely want an audience for what I’m feeling and thinking. I don’t want to dilute something that could potentially be important with the presence of someone who doesn’t understand its importance. I rarely want to get my ideas across knowing that the across is most likely a shitty destination.
On her employer’s penchant for stiletto heels (p 113):
I thought: this is Aileen’s way of getting high, injecting herself with stature and superiority. You could never pick up the pace with these kinds of shoes. Never get serious or determined. Never out-walk anyone, never out-run anyone, or anything, never get pissed off. Which meant Aileen had nothing to run away from and nothing to be pissed off about. Besides, New York was no longer the kind of place that signaled Danger. There was nothing to fear, except loss and boredom, and being stuck all day with a nostalgia that one one else bothers to feel.
On movies (p 142):
People forget all the time that movies are ultra-social extroverts. The kind of person that at a party makes you cringe because they can’t help blasting themselves all over the place like images that blink in every single room simultaneously. Even if you’re in the kitchen with a beer, you can hear them – they’re so wasteful – or in the hallway, you can see them, but there’s no sound. Most extroverts work on introverts like an x-ray effect, illuminating the damage inside.
On The Shining (p 69):
The way the blood tossed and turned like a secret ocean in a closet of skeletons. A cranberry horizon, some sailor’s dream-image of seasickness. Drunk on horror, now it makes me think of champagne sloshing around in a glass. Jack celebrates his rage and makes a toast to it. Getting shit-faced on a world of murder… While teaching a class on The Shining, William Burroughs defends Jack and explains, “Guy goes crazy, guy shoots his wife, it could happen to anyone.” Women being the proverbial anyones. I always have my finger on the power button when The Shining is on. When the cuntish maze finally bites down on Jack.