The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne

18297954
There it was. Standing up straight, beige background, lavender snake coiling across the cover, large black text. Everything about the cover spoke to me, so I picked it up. I’d never heard of Monica Byrne or her new, feminist sci-fi novel set in a futuristic India and Africa. Neil Gaiman calls it “glorious stuff.” Okay, Neil, of all people, I am inclined to trust your literary tastes.

But even without Gaiman’s endorsement, The Girl In The Road would have came home with me. The universe conspired to bring it to my attention after all. My recent literary wishes have included: science fiction with a cool female protagonist, something brimming with culture, preferably set in the Middle East, India, or eastern Europe, infused with spirituality and sexuality, utilizes technology in interesting and unexpected ways, futuristic yet painted with ancient undertones. My call was heard and answered and there stood The Girl In The Road, hitch-hiking on the shelf, waiting for someone to take her home.

Crossing paths with certain books can be a spiritual experience. The moment you see it, you know you are meant to read it, like a soul mate encounter. This has happened to me in the past with lots of books: Girl Goddess #9 by Francesca Lia Block, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Pure by Julianna Baggot, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavitz, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, and more, and now. (Of course we are all always on the hunt for that one book (the precious one) that will speak directly to us and represent life exactly as we know it or want to know it. Of course, the closest we will ever find to that one book is the one we write ourselves. But we learn to write our books by reading.)

This isn’t your typical scifi novel: with all it’s technology it remains earthy and sensual and never loses focus of its humanity.Meena is on the run from (terrorist?) organization Semena Werk. She wakes up from a snake-bite to the solar plexus–seemingly, an assassination attempt–and thus begins our journey from India across the Arabian Sea to Ethiopia via The Trail (“an energy harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea”). Meanwhile, in Africa, a young girl, Mariama, is headed east to Ethiopia on a truck with kind strangers who picked her up after she ran away from we don’t know what, they are joined by the beautiful and enigmatic Yemaya (named for the African goddess of the sea and protector of children). As the two journeys parallel each other through time and space–Meena’s in the future and Mariama’s in the past–and draw closer, their paths begin to blur and reality is altered or erased or redrawn along the way. I can’t wait to see the two girls collide.

 

Some notable passages from the book thus far ( I am halfway through):

“I think there are more things in heaven and earth than can be dreamt of in our philosophy!”
“Wouldn’t expect Shakespeare from a nano major.”
“Ohho?” she chides. “Free your mind.”

 

“I think some people are like superconductors,” I say. “They have no resistance to the energy they receive. They just convey it.”

 

 

20140726_220306
Read The Girl In The Road with The Stake’s reading club here.

 

Terra Incognita

I’m posting this because a couple of friends have asked me how Terra Incognita came to be.

It was the last day of August: my daughter spent the day at a friend’s birthday party and I spent the day working on my chapbook submission for dancing girl press’ chapbook series.

It was the last day to submit, I had until 11:59 p.m.

The post-apocalyptic, more-or-less love poems I was working on were inspired partly by Francesca Lia Block’s Love In The Time Of Global Warming (which I had just finished reading), and partly by Jorge Luis Borge’s The Book Of Imaginary Beings (which I had checked-out from the Leavenworth Public Library just a week before, and which I had been carrying around and leafing through all week), and a lot by my long-standing love of the arresting visual aesthetic of abandoned spaces (buildings, factories, schools, hospitals, farmhouses)–once thriving with human activity and now crumbling and being reclaimed by the earth.

Image

All day I worked, editing poems and writing ones still missing from the collection, stopping occasionally–for a break, or whenever I was blocked– to read Max Barry’s Syrup, a book so funny and intense, I didn’t want to put it down.

C would remind me of what I was supposed to be doing whenever he heard me yelling at the book, “DAMMIT, Sneaky Pete! Why are you so sneaky?”

…Or when it was down to the wire and I had only an hour left to finish and was pretty much catatonic with anxiety and all I could think was, “I need a snack! WHY DON’T WE HAVE ANY SNAXXX?!”…

C would say, “Um, because you already ate all the snacks, and shouldn’t you be writing?”

And then I sent it out into the ether and waited.

And waited.

waitedwaitedwaited.

and then I received the email I’d been waiting for my whole life, “We would love to publish…”

!!!

And in the intervening months, dancing girl press founder and editor, Kristy Bowen, worked her magic until Terra Incognita was ready to be sent out into the vast great unknown.

**

Terra Incognita is available here.

dancing girl press’ chapbook series reading period is now open: http://www.dancinggirlpress.com/index2.html

xoxo

xjen

“I hope not sporadically!”

Welcome to my blog! So far this blog has been all over the place and only sporadically updated. Today that changes! Although still a work-in-progress, in an attempt to create a space that focuses on: creativity, my creative process, what I am currently reading, and what inspires me; I’ve changed things up a bit and deleted things that no longer fit, and hopefully, all and all, made it a better place! See you around. 🙂

xjen