Monday, May 16, 2016

"A Fierce and Subtle Poison"

Samantha Mabry was born four days before the death of John Lennon. She grew up in Dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

Mabry applied the Page 69 Test to A Fierce and Subtle Poison, her debut novel, and reported the following:
The very last line on page 69 of A Fierce and Subtle Poison belongs to a teenage boy named Ruben. While a little tipsy, he brings up the well-known fact that his friend, the main character of the novel Lucas Knight, has no mother. This sets Lucas off (a bit of a tussle ensues), but at this point in the book readers don’t really know the specific circumstances of that absent mother or how her absence truly affects her son.

It’s later revealed that Lucas’s mom (who has no name) is in fact one of several girls and women in the story who, while having disappeared (in whatever way that happens), leave a mark. I am interested in this: the way in which absent women and girls shape the men and boys in their life. And conversely, I’m interested in the stories that get made up about those girls and women, how they function in imagination and memory, how they lose their physicality and become something else, for better or worse…usually worse. I am interested in how women and girls become inflated in the mind, and how they are demonized, mythologized, and are turned into heroes, villains, and saviors. As for the marks they leave, they can take many forms: from a there-and-gone whisper against an ear to a deep scratch the length of a spine that will lead to a wicked scar.
Visit Samantha Mabry's website.

--Marshal Zeringue