Thursday, November 13, 2014

All edges erased

Stories are as slippery as seasons; it's beyond my power to make either stand still. I try to tell them the same way, but each telling leads to small changes; something added to the structure, a change of pace, a tweak of testimonies, all of them make circles in our minds.
This is kind of wow. Creepy, elegant, thoughtful, feminist, weird. Unsettling.

The Beauty. Think collective noun, hive mind, like The Silence, or Borg.

The Beauty, by Aliya Whiteley, is the book I want to give all my friends for Christmas. (Except it may put a slight damper on the holiday spirit.) (But isn't that cover gorgeous?)

It starts off with a postapocalyptic scenario — a bunch of people have fled the city to return to Nature. They live communally, live off the land. Only, all the women are dying off. They are dying of the yellow fungus that grows out of them. And when they die, the same fungus grows out of their graves. Things get a bit weird from there. The Beauty arrive.
When he told me about his journey, that was how he finished it — he fitted there. I find this to be the strangest of expressions — how does one fit in to other people, all edges erased, making a seamless life from the sharp corners of discontent I don't find anything that fits in such a way. Certainly not in nature. Nothing real is meant to tessellate like a triangle, top-bottom bottom-top. The sheep will never munch the grass in straight lines.
This book is short and compelling. The sound of it is mythic and important. And it sounds gorgeous.

It's about beauty, to an extent, and what we find beautiful. And how that changes according to experience. And what we do to what we find beautiful, how we take it for our own. It's about gender roles, and how we fall into them. Also, an individual's place and role within a society. Nevermind the function that society serves. And also it's about the nature and power of storytelling.
Did my mother hum to me when I was little? Did she touch me, hold me, fill me with her noise and her thoughts? This loneliness I feel is of the womb, born by women. I was sixteen when they all died and I thought I understood this loss, but it comes to me that I didn't know what women gave to the world. It wasn't about their lips, their eyes or the gentle quality of their voices. It was about the way that all men are a part of them. And now we are part of nothing.
The Beauty do all the hard work for the men, so the men become reliant and weak. Who controls whom?

Does it depict change, or is it the same old? Is it bleak or hopeful? Feminist? Cynical? Yes, yes, yes, yes.

By Lulu with Love

See also
The Story Behind The Beauty
For the first few thousand words I worried that I couldn’t write persuasively in a male voice, but then the story kicked in and I realised that Nathan isn’t exactly a man.

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