What the fuck?
When an environment is hostile to me I try to be hostile back. This is an intro post.
Primary content notes for this post: Alcohol; erasure.
Hi. My name’s Cyrus. This is Abhorred. It exists because I figured “Pay me to write, sporadically and in uneven increments, about rereading The Handmaid’s Tale” would be a tough sell for an actual publication. That means that if it’s within reason it’s up to you to finance the amount of triple sec this is going to require. (Especially since, if this goes well, I’ll be watching the show next.)
I preordered a copy of the book when the new, look-it’s-pretty hardcover came out, hoping the margins and line spacing would be generous; I bought it to break the spine and annotate. This should be indicative. I am not actually here to be kind.
It got here Wednesday. My discourse-related impulse control lasted about a day and a half.
(For content warnings for all of Abhorred, skip to the end.)
What is wrong with you?
Quite a lot, thanks for asking. Today (mark April 28, 2017, for further edits) I am experiencing overpowering narcolepsy symptoms but have to go to work, and so at the forefront of my mind I know only that I'm very tired.
You know and I know I posed that question to highlight that this isn’t the Atwood Discourse people want me to be having and be self-deprecating to make sure you know I know that.
I read the book for the first time shortly after the election, maybe seeking to hurt myself, if nothing else looking for context. Atwood’s prose overpowers me, I aspire to it, I pick up a page and my internal monologue grows words and a nontrivial resemblance to June’s for the rest of the day.
That serves only to highlight that this book hates me — not Gilead, not just Gilead; not June, not just June; not Atwood, because I won’t accuse Atwood; but her text, unrelentingly, overpoweringly, and when I pick up June’s style of internal monologue that’s what I’ll spend the day internal-monologuing about — and so, for reflexive self-preservation’s sake, I hate it.
Bear with me. For just a second. Because now is the point where I mention, in case you don’t follow me on Twitter, that I’m transgender, disabled, and in possession of some very exciting PTSD.
What are you doing?
I started counting Atwood’s body pile about halfway into the book, and that late only because I was reading instead of sleeping. Shortly thereafter, for different reasons, I stopped breathing for a little while.
Abhorred is, from a wide-lens point of view, a story about that.
Post-apocalyptic dystopia by necessity is built on a pile of corpses large enough that our eyes unfocus. The scale is beyond a-million-is-a-statistic count; the world is so big, destroying it takes so much work. That doesn’t make the body pile value-neutral.
At least, I hope it doesn’t, because mine’s in there.
What should I expect?
I’m liveblogging what resonates with me and what falls flat and what makes me scream; at some point, we will get to the point where I stopped breathing, and I will make sure I’m not sober and I’m not alone, and I’ll tell you about that.
There will also be the petty and/or plot liveblogging — here is what is happening, here is who I want to deck upside the head with my crutches, here is who I want to rescue.
Also, because I’m self-publishing, obscure references, self-indulgent prose, semicolons.
Most of all, the recurring theme, what drove me here, is what we do when we read. What I do when I read, anyway. Maybe you do something different. But I look at power systems as presented, build out and check their framework, and then search for myself, reflexively:
Hey, look, it’s a different world; if this is how it works, I wonder what I’d be doing? The world I know is the one that happens to me; what happens to me here?
Am I like the protagonist? Am I different? Am I a villain? (Why am I a villain?) Where are my loved ones? What are they doing? What does it take for us to meet?
Where are my enemies? What have they done? Were they stopped?
Are there holes in the worldbuilding? What would I do differently as a writer? Where do my eyes slide off and focus instead? Where are the columns that hold the world weak, are we missing any turtles on the way down? What is necessary to arrive at this existence? Is it convincing? Is it consistent?
Would I change the world as a character, would the creator need to construct additional pylons to hold me credibly? Would I change the world as a character, would my actions modify the plot?
Like a tourist harassing me at a taco stand: Do I live here? Do I like it?
Abhorred is a 404: File Not Found story.
No, Cyrus, I meant warnings.
If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers.
This list will be continually updated. Individual posts get header warnings too.
Heads up for depictions of, discussion of, and dissection of…
- Child sexual assault
- Forced medical procedures
- Medical malpractice
- Forced pregnancy/forced birth
- Homophobia, aphobia, queerphobia
- Disordered eating
- Domestic abuse/IPV
- Child abuse (all types)
- Alcohol and drug use
Updated preemptively April 28, 2017.