Of drama hounds and social capital

Today, I’d like to thank Georgia Beers for our conversation about titles, and for hosting me on her blog: Georgia Beers’ Blog

This weekend, re-reading Giraffe People, and thinking about the edit, I realized I’d have to play through on the Nice-Guy Myth. Here’s military brat 101: be wary of the kid who swarms you when you walk into the classroom on day one, and promises to help you navigate the school and its social hierarchy. That kid is Nice-Guy Myth, Exhibit A. That kid is trying to control the story. He or she is trying to get to you before you have a chance to collect data and form your own conclusions.

But the Nice-Guy Myth is everywhere — in your neighborhood, in your office, in your social groups. It’s most evident in breakups. Not just romantic breakups, but friend breakups too. The Nice-Guy is the one who phones everyone mutually known to the couple, and jumpstarts the spin. “I’m just so worried about her. She’s obviously in crisis, and her decision-making has been affected, and …” blah I’m the hero of this story blah. Side with me! I’m the nice one!

The Nice-Guy Myth insinuates in a way the listener finds uncomfortable, but can’t quite pinpoint. Why do I feel like I’m being manipulated? You’re saying you’re worried. You’re not being hostile. You seem concerned.

The Nice-Guy Myth is all seem. But it’s a control mechanism. It’s stammered propaganda. I’m this guy. Trust me. This is the guy I’ve always been. Nice-Guy. And she’s leaving because she doesn’t like nice. She doesn’t value nice. She eats nice dipped in virgin blood from the hollowed out bodies of puppies. But not at first. That story comes later. At first, I’m the Nice-Guy, and I’m just expressing my anxiety about her choices because I love her. I love her more than myself. And I just want her to be happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. You know me. And nice is important to you. That’s how we’re different from her. You and I.

2 thoughts on “Of drama hounds and social capital”

  1. I…have totally been that guy. Back in my passive aggressive, hate the world, victim minded days when I could only see the world as me vs everything else. I would not go back there for *anything*. I would also not give up that experience for anything.

  2. Girls are often taught drama, rather than power. It’s a big deal when we stop trading in drama and social aggressiveness, when we start exercising real power. The fascinating part is that we’re more difficult to control if we won’t play the game. (Which is probably why we’re taught drama in the first place.)

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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