the written world: of tragedy

news

because my publicist, Ellen Wright, is an unstoppable force of creativity and adaptivity, i get to do a virtual tour for the paperback release of The Ten Thousand Doors! you can register for any or all of the following events for free, and if you order a book through the bookstore you'll get a signed bookplate! i’ll be reading from the book and answering questions and reading from The Once and Future Witches!

and The Ten Thousand Doors is a Hugo finalist! which makes it (so far) a finalist for the Nebulas, Audies, Goodreads Choice, Kitchies, Compton Crook, Crawford, and Alex awards. i………….have never written them all out like that. i’m going to take a deep breath and walk downstairs so that my toddlers can smear their sticky hands on my sweatpants and remind me that this is real life.

of tragedy

i’m re-reading wuthering heights for the first time since i was a teenager and i am pleased to report that, to quote the great rebecca kuang, it slaps, actually. it slaps so hard i’m forced to wonder if i actually did read it as a teenager, or just checked it out of the college library and carried it around self-importantly for half a semester. i do remember a dim sense of alarm, of wind-whipped horizons and midnight moors, and i think my sunshiney heart recoiled from such things. i was an Austen girl, looking for tidy moral lessons and happily ever afters. i didn’t (and still mostly don’t, to be honest) understand why anyone would write a sad ending when they could’ve written a happy one.

but apparently now, at 30, i’ve developed a taste for the dark and gothic, the wild and wanton, the cold and cruel. apparently i have in interest in unsuitable matches (“he’s a bird of bad omen: no mate for you”) and tragic choices (“i have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine”) and beautiful, terrible grief (“you said I killed you—haunt me, then!”) (ugh, doesn’t it give you chills, that last one?).

but like. why?

i read an interview with andrea arnold, the director of an especially artsy 2011 adaptation of the novel. she claimed casually that heathcliff was really an unexplored part of cathy, a way for Bronte to explore the dark, violent, savage side of femininity, all those parts of herself she kept neatly folded away. as a piece of literary criticism, i like it (“I am heathcliff!”); as a reader, i hate it (heathcliff is himself and cathy is herself! the entire problem is the cruelty of their separateness, their bodies a pair of prisons for their shared soul!); as a writer, I think it’s probably true.

i mean, we’re always writing ourselves, right? we’re splitting our souls into human-shaped pieces, giving them names and backstories, filling them with our hopes and terrors and idiosyncrasies. cathy and heathcliff are both emily bronte. and—maybe, just a little, on bad days—they’re me, too.

don’t get me wrong: i am and will always remain deeply basic, obnoxiously lucky, fundamentally cheery, et cetera—but at 30 i’ve accumulated a few more clouds on my horizon than i had at 17. maybe i want to see my own small, domestic tragedies writ large, given scope and drama, played out over two accursed generations. maybe there’s a catharsis and an honesty in tragedy i couldn’t have understood before, but do now.

anyway. everyone feel free to email me your wuthering heights/gothic romance feelings. let us discuss how kylo is absolutely a heathcliff. join me in my disproportionate hate of nelly dean.

let’s end by reflecting on what an absolute banger of a first paragraph this quote could be:

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one.”

other reading

  • to continue our wuthering heights theme: did you know tasha suri is doing a subversive anticolonial retelling of wuthering heights????? and we’re also getting retellings of robin hood (aminah mae safi) and treasure island (c.b. lee) and little women (bethany c. morrow)????

  • if you, like me, are stuck at home with small children and can’t take them to the park or the playground or the library or your mom’s or the zoo, you should know that my husband is a part-time children’s librarian and he’s doing a weekly facebook live kid’s show, tuesdays and thursdays at 10am, at it’s literally the cutest thing that has ever happened.

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