Penny Dreadful

I began watching Penny Dreadful because I am half in love with Eva Green, but my favorite performance is Patti LuPone’s. I love that the show doesn’t attempt to justify the paranormal events. Sure. Frankenstein has raised these people from the dead. It has something to do with water and electricity. Also, stitching.

Yup, lots of witches. Witches who help women and witches who help themselves.

Hounds of god. Check.

Wampyres. Totally.

Lots of creepy-assed dolls.

Dorian Gray flits about with his boring self and makes one of the most interesting arguments against immortality that I have ever considered. You can’t go on living and be reasonable. It is monstrous to go on living, or to go on being undead, or whatever it is when you’re immortal.

Life isn’t just suffering; it’s necessary suffering. So that death becomes a relief. And we can treat each other, suffering and mortal, with compassion.

Penny Dreadful’s argument isn’t humanistic, but spiritual. There is, everywhere, the search for god and forgiveness. There is, everywhere, the devil and corruption. Sickness. Poverty. So much heartbreak that it’s almost a relief to see Dracula. Simple monsters.

Simple monsters who have cheated not just death but the fragility that is supposed to encompass the whole of our lives.

When I was a teen, I thought my life would burn up so quickly that recklessness was my best option. You’ll be old and frail too soon. Drive faster. Drink harder. Race. Race. Race.

Penny Dreadful argues there is power in our suffering. Power in our struggle to resist and sacrifice. Power in our humanity.

It also argues that we are petty as fuck.

In other words, it’s true. True and human and filled with monsters.

But the finest speech is Billie Piper’s when she begs for her memory. She begs against being unmade. Against forgetting. Against the shell that will exist when she can no longer suffer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about PTSD. About the fact that grief and trauma are different. I think we are bound to grief the same way that we are bound to love. They are extensions of what it means to wake every day with skin and bones. With clumsy attempts to communicate in languages not quite specific enough.

If you only knew. If you only knew how I wake with a bridge between my fingertips that stretches the length of my arms, that spans my chest. That this heavy love I have for you is like an animal. Curled and uncurling. That it sleeps here, against me, and prowls awake. That it says nothing. And knows things.

I am so flawed.

How tired I am, sometimes, of my self.

Year by year, I’m more like a goddamned flower. Closed off. Fragile. And then, each morning, eager for another chance at warmth.

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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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