Monday, August 10, 2009

Tender Morsels

I haven't been keeping up with my blogging this summer. (Shame on me!)

But I have been spending my time wisely. I had a glorious ten days at the Vermont College of Fine Arts working on my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

One fabulous part of my residency was hearing a lecture from Margo Lanagan, author of Tender Morsels. Ms. Lanagan is from Australia, which I guess is about as far removed from Oklahoma as you can get. But, her gregarious nature and bubbly personality made it seem like we were neighbors.
Tender Morsels is a richly complex book. It does deal with some rather dark subject matter (incest and rape) but it wraps these subjects in a fantasy world with a few degrees of separation from our own. I found it very interesting that for some of my classmates, these subjects immediately moved the book out of the category of what they thought teens should be reading. But, I have to disagree. Teens (and all of us, for that matter) should have a means of addressing difficult subjects. Is there a safer place than between the covers of a book?
I also think that Lanagan did a brilliant job of letting the reader know what happens without pausing on any graphic details. And, perhaps that is part of why the book is raising such a stir - Lanagan has left room for the reader to fill in those details with their own imagination. Apparently, those imaginations can be terribly lurid!

Finally, I have to mention the complex point of view shift Lanagan employs. Some of the book is written in first person, some in third person. Oh, and the first person narrator isn't always the same character. Sound confusing? I have to admit, I thought so at first. But then I caught on to what Lanagan was doing - the point of view is actually a commentary on patriarchial society. The men in the story (even if they are secondary characters) believe they are the hero of the story - it is all about them in first person. While the women (who are the focus of the novel) have no voice, their story is told in third person. I felt so smart when I figured this out!

Here is an interview with Lanagan
And here is the link to her blog

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