Monday, August 10, 2015

"Letters to Zell"

Camille Griep lives just north of Seattle with her partner, Adam, and their dog Dutch(ess). Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Southern California to attend Claremont McKenna College, graduating with a dual degree in Biology and Literature.

She has since sold short fiction and creative nonfiction to dozens of online and print magazines. She is the editor of Easy Street and is a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. She is a 2012 graduate of Viable Paradise, a residential workshop for speculative fiction novelists.

Griep applied the Page 69 Test to Letters to Zell, her first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
CeCi, Bianca, and I had a lovely lunch at Gretel’s Café today. Hansel traveled Outside recently, scouring Human supermarkets for new ingredients, and so there are quite a few new things on the menu. Gretel has come to favor something called ketchup, and while it’s delicious, I think maybe not quite so many things should be made with it, pies in particular. It’s a very pretty tomato color, and I will admit it goes well with fried potatoes.

Bianca ate quite a lot of it. I told her that she should be careful lest she not fit into her wedding dress and she held up her middle finger at me, like the motor coach men did when we arrived at the Magic Castle. I’ve gathered that it’s a gesture that means that the gesturer does not like what one has said or done and plans to disregard it. Or that the gesturer plans to consume your potatoes as well as hers and ask for another bottle of ketchup.

One guess is as likely as the other.
On Page 69 of Letters to Zell we find ourselves at the end of a letter from Sleeping Beauty (aka Rory) to Rapunzel (Zell). The excerpt demonstrates one serious and one not-so-serious theme in the book.

Though these letters are satire, there is a lot of emotional work going on underneath the sarcasm. The Sleeping Beauty character is our naïve, lacy-collared romantic. She is less open to change than the other two princesses and takes things quite literally. But underneath all of her complaint here, are real concerns for her friends and for the changes she sees happening in her life. She doesn’t know how to hit the pause button or even confront her friends in a productive way, so instead she takes her frustrations out on ketchup. The ketchup itself is meaningless, but the fear she feels when she sees her friends falling hard for the new and the different is quite real.

I also wanted to take the opportunity given to me by way of taking on three female protagonists to address many of the clichéd hobbies, interests, and behaviors of women in their 20s-40s. One of the trends I myself got caught up in for awhile was being a foodie. During my stint as an attempted foodie, I found often there is some hot, under-appreciated new ingredient that everyone uses ad nauseum for a month or so – no matter which restaurant one flings oneself to – be it ramps or ferns or morels or kale. While I still take great joy in exploring the Seattle food scene with my friends, I wanted to give that time in my life a fitting little roast. In Letters to Zell I can be accused of skewering wine bars, book clubs, romance novels, Cosmopolitan, and more. Writing Zell was a journey toward the maturity of embracing these very things because I want to, not because I’m supposed to.

Readers who enjoy layered satire and having a laugh at their own expense will hopefully enjoy page 69 of Letters to Zell and beyond.
Visit Camille Griep's website.

--Marshal Zeringue