Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Featured Author: Kate Zambreno

"So enter Kate Zambreno, who is as much [Kathy] Acker as she is [Virginia] Woolf, as much Angela Carter as she is Elfriede Jelinek."
~Michael Schaub, writing about Zambreno's debut novella, O Fallen Angel

Like any of the authors namechecked above?  Perhaps you should try reading Kate Zambreno! Zambreno is an American author and blogger, born in 1977, currently residing in North Carolina. On Zambreno's Twitter page, she describes herself thusly: "I write ranty novels and novelly rants." Her work has been praised by in Vanity Fair, in Bookforum, and by Jezebel.com.

Green Girl is The Bell Jar for today -- an existential novel about Ruth, a young American in London, kin to Jean Seberg gamines and contemporary celebutantes. Ruth works a string of meaningless jobs: perfume spritzer at a department store she calls Horrid's, clothes-folder, and a shop-girl. Ruth is looked at constantly - something she craves and abhors. She is followed by a mysterious narrator, the voice equally violent and maternal. Ruth and her toxic friend, Agnes, are obsessed with cosmetics and fashion and film, with boys, with themselves, and with each other.

Taking inspiration from Zambreno's blog, Heroines is part literary criticism, part memoir, exploring the lives of women such as Vivienne Eliot, Jane Bowles, Jean Rhys, and Zelda Fitzgerald - the book is described on the author's website as "reclaim[ing] the traditionally pathologized biographies...of writers and artists themselves who served as male writers’ muses only to end their lives silenced, erased, and institutionalized".  These heroines are filtered through the prism of Zambreno's experiences to "devise a new feminist discourse, writing in the margins and developing an alternative canon" [author's website].

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