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"I am a transgender person -- I would rather be Stephanie, all else being equal (which it's not) -- and so of course I'm attracted to ways in which poems let me speak as, speak for, pretend to be, a fictional character obviously not myself. Some of those alter egos are ego-ideals, admirable imaginary characters or personae from "popular" culture; almost all those alter egos are women, or girls."
Rebecca Ariel Porte
"I had to assume that if I felt as isolated and bizarre a human being as I did at moments -- even as I was showing up for meetings and persuading people to write for Playboy -- that there were women in the city with regard to their relationships or their reproductive lives feeling like they were also kind of a cog in this great machine. And there was sort of a Wow, I’m suddenly this when I thought my life would be this -- I hoped there were women who shared my sense that [their lives] were much different than they had anticipated, and that they might also respond to all the ways that sensuality and sexuality could be expressed."
Natalia Ginzburg lived through a lot before she turned fifty -- World War II in an anti-fascist Italian-Jewish family; her first husband's torture and murder by Mussolini's forces; the rise of modern Italian literature, in which she played a big role, as a writer and editor; and the ennui and weariness of a country and a continent in postwar recession and moral depression. You would think she would have lots to write about, and indeed she does. Most of what she has to say, though, is said through silences, gaps in the record, sly omissions, and whispered asides.
"American culture, for the most part, discourages true investigation because racism is presented as, pardon me, a black-or-white issue rather than an issue that exists along a spectrum. It's convenient to think of racists as people who go around spouting hate and wearing white hoods, rather than as complicated, flawed people. It's also easier to condemn and ostracize people with a sort of purity test, rather than recognize that lots of whites -- of my generation, at least -- were raised with some degree of racist indoctrination and then examine how that indoctrination still influences us and most of our institutions."
R. Clifton Spargo
"Jon comes from a fairly fucked-up family, burdened by his brother's death, his mother's slide into depression, his own guilt... Running track offers him a kind of pain he can understand. The truth is, I get that -- maybe I ran for the same reason. Track is simple: run at x speed for y distance, and you will suffer; all you have to do is change the variables to match your fitness. Is there a ritualistic aspect to it? Maybe, at least for people like Jon. He says at some point that kids today cut themselves; he ran track. His way was better, but it was the same thing."
Sean P. Carroll
"I can and will say that yes, anger is a core emotion of the book, and that yes, my narrators are totally angry. Admitting this, I realize, is a risk, as readers often conflate my and my narrators' lives. I mean I'm running the risk of a being called an angry woman, which too often is viewed as unacceptable, in art and in life. Honestly, I think this is why I've always had such a messed up relationship with anger. In the past, I did anything to avoid feeling it. I replaced it with sadness or longing or guilt or any of a huge collection of emotions I'm better at."
"I think that what draws me to these texts is their extreme relatability, and the fact that a modern audience can still find these 1000-year-old jokes funny. My first priority is to make sure that that relatability comes across. But I do like the rhythm and strangeness of the medieval language, and I don't want to make my translation seem like it's a modern book written in English (if that were even possible). So it's a constant compromise between the two. I think that I also wanted the book to be educational to students of Arabic literature, so when it mentions names or places that are unfamiliar, I'd rather leave them unfamiliar and let that be a learning opportunity for the reader."
Rebecca Ariel Porte