You came to me highly recommended by Elizabeth Young, so I chose you for my book club selection last month.
I read all your works except the play, which I did not finish. My apologies. The basement flooded, then the power went out for a week, and then the book was due at the library and I had no free time while recovering from disasters. And, quite honestly, the book made me feel uncomfortable, and I was somewhat glad to be free of it.
But it’s stuck with me, and I am not free.
Publicly, my feedback on your work was to shake my head in shame and say, “I’m so sorry.” I expect my smart, practical, successful book club cohorts would find nothing of value in your discourse, awkward and oblique as it is. One friend who read half the book asked me, “Does anything ever happen?” and I wasn’t sure how to answer her.
Privately, however, I would like to entreat you to write more. Okay, you’re dead and all, but that’s no excuse. Get over it and write. I could spend eight years spiraling downward with the Two Serious Ladies, hitting bottom and then nope, not done yet, there’s another bottom to hit, and then hitting bottom again. And why? What star do The Ladies follow? You say it’s salvation, but from what or with whom? Certainly no-one in your work is religious, unless Obscurity is a religion. Perhaps it should be.
There are mysteries in human action unexplained by psychologists. Jung gets close to making sense, because he allows for nonsense. You never once give in to the battering question of Why. You never once psychoanalyze your characters, or flashback indulgently in order to tie a pretty bow on the girl’s head and hand her to us as a present. You just drag her down the road and let her lose her shoes and her hat, and she comes to us disheveled and out of breath, and probably a little bit hung-over, too. She comes to us raw.
Raw, yet delicate; the intimacy and intensity of relationships feels both fragile and dangerous, a glass menagerie poised to splinter. Did you know that glass splinters don’t work their way out like wood splinters do? Glass splinters work their way in. They go deeper into the flesh and need to be surgically removed, like sisters enmeshed and unindividuated. Like friends with unspoken passions.
I’m worried about you, Jane. I don’t know where you can go from here. You’ve got a kind of lucid insanity that seems to be fueling you and destroying you simultaneously. And all those men around you, writing their manly prose and tolerating your work. Men have been such assholes to women historically, and few women writers existed before birth control and suffrage. You seem nearly forgotten. I never heard of you in school, but I heard of your husband. The inequality is striking.
Will you be forgotten? Or will you keep working your way into the history of prose like a glass splinter?
Keep writing. I hope I hear back from you soon-