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lark benobi Posts

“owl-baby”

“Here is your father, owl-baby, in a nutshell: He has complete faith that, now that he’s involved in the day-to-day, you’ll shape right up. ‘Once we apply the right parameters, she’ll outgrow it,” he says to me. ‘Don’t you think she’ll outgrow it, once we apply the right parameters?’ And in a swift and manly motion he picks you right up off the floor and tosses you toward the ceiling a few times, the way he imagines fathers toss their children, before setting you back down.”(from my most recent, just-finished novel…I spent some time making papercuttings of some scenes as I wrote them)

from my novel in progress

“The next day the school summons me back to sign some papers. I take you along with me, owl-baby, to remind them that you, like any other child, deserve understanding, and also because I have no choice—there is no sitter left in all of Sacramento, I think sometimes, who hasn’t heard of you. You’re still just a baby, practically speaking. As we sit here together in the head teacher’s tiny office, the formerly optimistic head teacher won’t look us in the eye. She’s looking down at the Russ Berrie collectibles on her desk instead. I can tell I’ll get nowhere with her. The best I can hope for is a pro-rated tuition refund.” (from my novel-in-progress, illustration below)

new scissors made me happy

I like to imagine my characters visually. For some reason my newest/next novel feels like I want to imagine the characters as papercuttings. So I bought some Fiskar “Titanium” scissors, and they make me very happy, and it feels very exciting to be experimenting with this medium, and with color too, after all the b&w line drawings for The Book of Dog, butI’m getting a little wild with the palette.

The Joy of Not Knowing What You’re Doing

Most people who read my blog already know that I had never drawn anything before The Book of Dog, which I illustrated with black-and-white line drawings–like my dear friend Wanda Lubiejewski.

At the very end of my Book of Dog journey, though, I started fooling around with paper cuttings instead. It was so much fun that, when I realized my Book of Dog paperback cover didn’t work at all for the square format of an audio CD, I came up with this completely different look for the audiobook.

Now I’m having fun imagining the characters of my next novel as paper cuttings. Here is one possible picture for a scene that takes place in the Premature Owl-Baby Ward (why not):

Hans Christian Anderson was a master at this obscure art, by the way. He used to cut out characters while he told his stories and then unfold them at the end. Here is one of his amazing papercuttings:

my next novel

I’ve written my next novel. Like The Book of Dog, this novel is a celebratory story, mostly about motherhood, and with some mild bestiality.

AFTER by Claire Tristram is now available on AMAZON

After by Claire Tristram, another pen name I use, was a novel originally published in 2005 with Farrar Straus & Giroux. It’s the story of two people damaged by acts of war and terrorism, and how they come together to try to heal one another. It does not go well. I first wrote a version of this novel in the wake of 9/11. The novel is relentlessly, deliberately dark. I had all rights reverted to me a few months ago, and since then I’ve spent some time with this story, making subtle revisions that I’ve always wanted to make but that I ran out of time for, the first time it was published. The differences are subtle but they make me happy. The story line is similar enough to the original printed version that I didn’t feel it was wrong to retain the same title. This novel has been a sometime-favorite for people writing doctoral dissertations but I don’t think I’ve changed enough to get in the way of their interpretations.

Ok. A few words about After as a reading experience. I can’t honestly recommend my own book for people who loved The Book of Dog by Lark Benobi, or who like their books full of cheer…because After is not cheerful. When this novel first came out it got a lot of enraged reviews.

BUT if you ever find yourself in the mood for a harsh relentless read, maybe something to go with a certain, raging-at-the-world kind of mood that you wake up with one day, I can recommend After for that! No ebook yet but if you can’t afford the going price feel free to ping me and I’ll send you a PDF.,

(the cover photo, by the way, is taken at oceanside, on a cloudy day, during a total eclipse)

 

Jacob Olson at “Reviews and Robots” reviews The Book of Dog

Jacob Olson’s review of The Book of Dog on the “Reviews and Robots” blog focuses on The Book of Dog’s critique of American culture, something that no other review of my novel has emphasized. It made my day. For a small press author every review is a gift, and that is even more true when it feels like your book connects with an individual reader in exactly the way you intended.

From the review:

“The Book of Dog is one of the strangest books you’ll ever read, yet somehow it works. This apocalyptic tale of the coming of the rapture pairs American ignorance with freakish occurrences, sending the read on a dystopian path through the stories of six women and the inevitable end of the world as we know it. I can’t begin to describe how strange of a read this is, and I’m amazed at how well all of the bizarre pieces work together to create this inspiring story.”

Here is the full review, complete with a very cute, Apocalyptic Pug.

gentle readers, I am about to ask a favor of you

Hi everyone. I’ve learned that if I get 5 more reviews on Amazon for The Book of Dog by Lark Benobi then I’ll be eligible for some promotional programs. If you’ve written a review on GR and not on Amazon, it would be a tremendous favor to me if you would also post on Amazon. Thank you and sorry for the wee promotional intrusion. Here is a picture of some whiptail lizards..

3 New Books About Unusual Women Warriors

I’m so grateful to Ilana Lucas for including The Book of Dog by Lark Benobi in her review of “3 New Books About Unusual Woman Warriors,” published in the online magazine Brit + Co today. I especially liked this part:

“The book serves as a metaphor for female powerlessness in male and religion-dominated societies, but its six heroines are still willing to kick ass and take names…the irreverent and fantastical novel is filled with evocative, stylized cartoons and is an ode to friendship. Individually, they may not be able to change very much, but together, every dog has her day.”

Here is a link to the full review.

I feel really good when readers describe my book as an “ode to friendship,” in particular, as an ode to female friendship. The novel was inspired and shaped by my friendships with other women, especially the friendships I have made since November 2016, with women I’ve met at marches and readings and gatherings of like-minded crones… we women are just now beginning to find our collective political power.