The Year of Magical Genders

Posted by – January 30, 2007

When I started writing She’s Not the Man I Married, I was thinking of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which made me think about driving up a mountain road in order to see something a ways off, & the way the road curls around the mountain, so that every time you go around a bend you get a slightly different perspective of the thing you’re trying to see.

I think that’s what this book does. I hope so, anyway. That very same aspect of it also makes choosing excerpts to read aloud kind of difficult, as right in the middle of a narrative about one thing I tend to go off on a huge tangent about shoe-buying or faghags or something. It’s thickly layered, in a sense, so that it’s hard to just pull a piece out that doesn’t loose something in the excerpting.

So now that the first review has come up, and the word “repetitive” appeared in it, I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’d argue it wasn’t unnecessary. Ineffective, maybe, but I was doing it for a reason. “Humorous” and “self-deprecating” are much more accurate.

4 Comments on The Year of Magical Genders

  1. alison says:

    I can’t wait for ‘She’s Not the Man I Married’, especially if the style is like ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’. I found myself thoroughly captivated by that book and I couldn’t put it down. Before I started it, I really didn’t think I would like it, but I had heard an interview with Joan Didion by Kerri Miller of MN Public Radio. Kerri does 2 hour long shows on weekday mornings, and amidst the political, social issues, and occasional pop culture shows, she interviews authors of current books and has book club discussions on classics. Most of the authors she interviews invariably comment that they are surprised that she has obviously read the whole book and the call in questions from listeners are surprisingly intelligent. The authors are used to the 3 minute segments on the TV morning shows with anchors who are paid to look pretty. Now if we could get Kerri to interview Helen… I’ve already suggested that as a future show idea to MPR.

  2. Phoebe says:

    There is very little that is more noticeable,
    there is very little that is more captivating,
    there is very little that is more effective,
    than strategic repetition.

  3. helenboyd says:

    alison, i’m afraid the style is nothing like The Year of Magical Thinking; i’m a novice to Didion’s mastery. i was blown away by how simply she carved out the layers, like unwrapping an onion, in that book. i think one of the reasons i end up charged with ‘repetitive’ is because my writing style is not so serene… but you know, one should always aspire, & i’ve always found that reading – & emulating – the people whose writing you truly admire is a sure way to improve your writing.

    phoebe, you rock.

  4. Alessa says:

    Good luck on your second book, Helen. I’ve been trying to write my own for the past year. It’s been a dreadful slog, and painful. I think I’m still to close to it all. I’ve had your first book on my shelf for years. I should pick it up and read it one day. Maybe it will give me the inspiration that Didion did for you.

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