Smartypants

Mary’s the first person I’ve ever dated who’s as smart as I am. I’m not supposed to say shit like that. I’m not supposed to say that I’m smart, and I’m not supposed to rank the intelligence of others. It’s bad manners to acknowledge our gifts, right? Disingenuous. I value intelligence, and I finally get that the kind of intelligence I was drawn to when I was younger had a lot to do with the kind of relationships I ended up in. I used to date people whose intelligence was different from mine because then they wouldn’t feel like they had to compete with me. They could be their smart and I would be my smart and there would be no friction. Why would you compete with me when you have your own domain? You’re the guy who knows all about military weapons. You’re the one who knows supplements to maximize some kind of physical receptor. Great. Yeah, you do that. I’ll be over here writing.

The truth is, I picked people who interested me. But at some point they would take on an argument made to devalue my intelligence. To categorize it as specialized, condescending, frivolous. It was an argument against art. An argument against humanism. An argument against me. It was an argument made to kick me off balance, to reduce me.

We all have gifts. To pretend we don’t does everyone around us a disservice. I see things with my own particular language. I had begun to think it was a language I’d speak on my own, or with G. Like reading Ezra Pound, when you realize you’d have had to read all the books he read, in the order he read them, and travel to all the places he did at the times he traveled to them to have any fucking idea what the dude was saying. He’s actually a poor example of what I mean. I’m talking about the secret world of our brains and my attempts to give my secret world a dialogue. It was starting to seem like it’d just be a monologue forever.

I value a particular kind of intelligence, but I admire the others as well. And so I can tell you, Mary is as smart as I am, and she’s not intimidated by me or my ego. She doesn’t agree with me because she doesn’t know how to formulate an argument, and she doesn’t argue simply to avoid admitting that I’m right. She is comfortable with her intelligence and her power and comfortable with mine in turn. That’s a gift too.

I feel sometimes like I bartered myself against this notion that smart girls have to be quiet about it. That it’s OK for us to be smart so long as we don’t make a fuss, or, you know, prove that we’re smart. That we can be smart if our smart makes our partners look better, but not if it makes our partners feel inadequate. I was worried about writing this blog because it makes me feel like an asshole. And that’s it exactly.

3 thoughts on “Smartypants”

  1. I am a special kind of smart. I like my smart and I embrace it. Plus I am smart like Martha Stewart. I make smart cakes. I make smart cakes for smart girls. The rest get Costco, because I know the difference.

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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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