Sadness can’t belong to anyone. To drown in the swell of sadness is as human as breathing, even if the thought scares us. At the same time, our identifications with others, with ideas, with collective identities can trap us into shared traumas, cornering us into communal misery. The agonizing performances through which we disgorge this misery become communal, too. The screaming, the hollow poetry.
Both of these novels, written nearly fifty years apart, concern women who go against the grain of society in ways that are, in the grand scheme of things, rather inconsequential. In doing so, these stories reveal the stakes of the everyday.
Farewell, our adopted Michiganders. Sudden virus has taken the Midwest, turned it upside down and shook the life out of it like an old piggy bank. Streets are empty. Human interaction has vanished from our lives. Memories of people hang like smoke in the room. Counting Crows once sang, “If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts.” The flat, gray expanse that is Ann Arbor is haunted by these ghosts. By you, by the Arborites holed up at home, by the gothic mythology woven into the fabric of this region.
What scares us the most is what we remember. The moments in which we felt frightened, hesitant and uneasy are the moments that stick out to us, the events we remember years after the fact. It is what makes us uncomfortable that leaves a lasting mark.
It is notable that not every piece of literature or media by and about women is feminist. The label gets used so frequently to mean “anything mostly concerning women, created by one” that the word mostly connotes, at this point, more of a sanguine, positive approach to femininity than anything else. This makes Gabrielle Annan’s use of the word to describe Fleur Jaeggy’s 1989 novella “Sweet Days Of Discipline” in a review in The New York Review of Books surprising.
Make no mistake —“The Invisible Man” is a true story. When one considers its source material, an 1897 novel by H.G. Wells, this sounds like a wild claim. After all, nobody (that we know of) can become invisible, even centuries after the original book was published. Yet, this 2020 remake, which at first glance appears to be another desperate Hollywood cash-grab, is more true to life than most other offerings at the movies today.
Surrounded by Michigan paraphernalia in the Three Cats Cafe, Dan Scanlon looks comfortable and at home — because he is. As someone born and raised in Clawson, MI, it’s no wonder Scanlon is eager to talk about “Onward,” Scanlon's highly anticipated film based on his own childhood, in his real-life hometown.