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All posts by Monique Daviau

On “Froelich’s Ladder”: An Interview with Jamie Duclos-Yourdon

“From a plot perspective, each of my characters has the opportunity to help another character, and they all take that opportunity. Now, in order to facilitate those decisions, I had to introduce them to peril. I was fine sticking them in dire situations, knowing that they’d make it through unscathed. Nobody comes off worse than he or she begins.”

What I’ve Learned About the Value of Storytelling in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Since August, 2011

by Monique Daviau

Back in August, before the beginning of the school year, I was sitting on the red sofa at Mighty Good Coffee in Ann Arbor, sipping a latte and reading one of the thirty-one books that MFA students are required to read for their reading exam. An older woman with a massive expanse of gray curls sat down beside me and began munching a cookie, and after evaluating whether or not I was willing to have a conversation with her, explained to me why she was so happy:

“I’ve just gotten a massage and I know that my massage therapist loves me because after he finished, he folded my socks a certain way. Look! That means ‘I Love You.’ If he folds them this way, see, (the lady rearranged the top of her sock) that means ‘I only want to be your friend,’ but he didn’t, and so he loves me.” She returned her sock to its previous “he loves me” configuration, and smiled some more.

To Every Dish, There is a Season

by Monique Daviau

Plates and bowls are meant to be simple conveyances for food, but now eating at home would possess the burden of memory: each grown-up, lonely dinner of spaghetti with jarred sauce and salad from a bag would be served on plates that screamed in my face COLLEGE! YOUTH! 1998! NORTHAMPTON! NEVER EATING ALONE! Over time, would these thirty-six pieces of cracked, used china simply become my regular old dishes, no longer returning to my mind an amalgam of dusty, distant college memories? Did I want my Madeleine or didn’t I?

The Tallest Girl in the Book

by Monique Daviau

Among the many barbs that Humbert Humbert lobs at Lolita’s poor, doomed mother, Charlotte Haze, is that she is “large.” Sure, his gaze upon this woman, who has unfortunately reached the same decrepit age that I am now, is never kind. To him, she is dull-witted, her French is horrendous, she is simple and slovenly. But above all, she is that most unfeminine of qualities: the opposite of small. Humbert is not alone in prizing a woman for being of diminutive stature, although Humbert is a terrible example, since we all know what his deal is, one need not venture far from Nabokov’s masterpiece to find male narrators who wax rhapsodic over women with tiny hands, delicate feet, and small bodies that fit into to crooks of their arms. If you, like me, are a woman of formidable mien (I topped out around six feet tall at the age of twelve), chances are that you long ago abandoned hope that the day would come when you would find a man glowing upon the page about his romantic interest, a heroine who can fit into your clothes.

Asparagus for Frank O’Hara

by Monique Daviau

Last summer, I convinced my friend Chris that he and I should drive from Brooklyn to East Hampton, Long Island, to place a bundle of asparagus on the grave of a poet he had never heard of. I hoped to be very convincing when explaining that Frank O’Hara was my favorite poet, meant the world to me, and that I needed to make the pilgrimage. Fortunately, Chris is always open to using his Zipcar membership to drive down to the tippy-tip of Long Island for a day of cemetery-going, and on the day we’d planned to take the trip, the sun was shining and it was almost as if the city were throwing us out. Go see Frank! As a bonus: perfect beach weather!