Chelsea Girls

In my dream life, I meet up with Eileen Myles, Hito Steyerl, and Gail Scott for brunch once every few months to talk art, poetry, literature, life. In my real life, I simply clutch the pages that these women have bequeathed the world and give them free reign to romp in my mind, using their pitchforks to rouse my torpid thoughts. This 1994 gem from Myles shone some intellectual radiance my way on a rainy Sunday afternoon, making me wonder what percentage of strong women writing is done by ladies who love other ladies. Is it that straight women are usually caught up in domestic drudgery of raising a family or tamping down their own voice to please a dude? Evidence mounts and the mystery continues (see: Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Gail Scott, Eileen Myles, Gertrude Stein).
Myles’ prose can barely contain the poetry bursting out of it, making it a hugely enjoyable reading endeavor. The fragments, the forceful bits, swirled up a memory for me of Gail Scott’s My Paris which came a few years after Myles’ work, and both hat-tip Gertrude. This is Myles’ attempt at autobiography couched as fiction, dealing with her alcoholic father who dies when she’s a teenager, growing up in Boston, surviving as a lesbian poet in 1970s NYC. There’s a section in here about Marshfield, MA and Brant Rock, a few spots I know well from my childhood visits. Myles’ family stayed on Hancock Street, a few blocks from my grandma’s Lowell Ave. cottage. She mentions the old stone church, showering in the backyard, going to the beach every day. The world is truly a small place.