Jillian Medoff at Greenlight Bookstore

Last night, as part of the author/blogger series I curate at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, I invited Jillian Medoff to come talk about her new novel, I Couldn’t Love You More. As I mentioned in my introduction to the audience, this novel has one of the most deeply embedded “fakeouts” I’ve seen in a long while. You spend half the novel thinking that the story is going to follow one path, and suddenly something happens that sends it caroming off in a completely different direction (although there’s still plenty of aftershocks from that first setup. And then you realize, over time, that scenes you thought were peripheral to the story you thought Jillian was telling you are actually integral to the real narrative.

When I was looking for Jillian’s conversational partner, the first and only person I invited was my friend Gretl Claggett, who’s recently published a poetry collection (Monsoon Solo) but whom I also know as a blogger for SheWrites.com and as a frequent guest contributor at Head Butler. In fact, they did a preview of the bookstore event on Head Butler with a Q&A that digs into some of the book’s themes—and the ways in which readers have reacted to them:

“This is a novel, not a memoir, and it’s certainly not a novel or a memoir about these readers’ lives. The question isn’t whether a reader would or wouldn’t act a certain way; the question is whether or not Eliot is behaving in a way that’s true to, or consistent with, her character… I’m just surprised, I guess, by how virulent people have been about it. On the other hand, I love that readers are having such visceral reactions. It means I’ve done my job.”

Here’s another part of the conversation, in which Jillian explains why she steers clear of much of the argument surrounding the amount of coverage women, especially those writing commercial fiction, get in the book sections of American newspapers and magazines. For her, it’s about a choice to focus on making herself a better writer…

(Sorry about the handheld shakiness in spots…)

17 July 2012 | events |