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Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls

Psychokillers

Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls
A Novel

by Lucy Corin

Paperback
2004
Price: $19.95

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Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls examines what it means to grow up curious and irrepressible in a culture of girl-killers. For the narrator of this debut novel, spectacular violence is the idiom of everyday life, a lurid extravaganza in which all those around her seem vicarious participants. And at its center are the interchangeable young girls, thrilling to know themselves the objects of so much desire and terror. The narrative interweaves history, myth, rumor, and news with the experiences of a young girl living in the flatness of South Florida. Like Grace Paley’s narrators, she is pensive and eager, hungry for experience but restrained. Into the sphere of her regard come a Ted Bundy reject, the God Osiris, a Caribbean slave turned pirate, a circus performer living in a box, broken horses, a Seminole chief in a swamp, and a murderous babysitter. What these preposterously commonplace figures all know is that murder is identity: Of course what matters really is the psychokiller, what he’s done, what he threatens to do. Of course to be the lucky one you have to be abducted in the first place. Without him, you wouldn't exist. Everyday Psychokillers reaches to the edge of the psychoanalytical and jolts the reader back to daily life. The reader becomes the killer, the watcher, the person on the verge, hiding behind an everyday face.

"It is an impressive novel: incisive, beautiful, pathological at times, and very dark."—DIAGRAM

"Lucy Corin's mesmerizing debut novel is a gorgeous, nervy, creepy piece of fiction, a discursive meditation on adolescence and adulthood, innocence and evil, power and vulnerability, violence and tenderness, Eros and Thanatos—and how closely linked they are, these ostensible opposites, in human nature."—BookForum

"Edgy and erotic. Interestingly psychotic."—American Book Review

"Every sentence breathes and moves in this book, illuminating a stunning lyric sensibility not characteristic of thrillers or crime-based historical novels ... The text itself is constructed in narrative limbs, once hacked and strewn about, that Corin bandages together to create a whole, new story."—Gulf Coast

"Corin reinhabits American speech like a psychokiller dressed out in a victim’s skin. Her splintered perspective cracks the glossy landscape of commodification to reveal an unsettling intimacy with danger. It seeps through bandages of history and myth like blood from the torn-apart body of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris, falling apart in the arms of his sister-wife Isis. Corin anatomizes the eternal embrace of what saves and what kills, refusing to compromise the complexity of experience and language. There is no escape—not even in irony. Hers is a fully awakened sensibility."—Patricia Eakins

"Two girls look at the Venus de Milo. 'Somebody has knocked off her arms,' one girl says. 'I could do that,' says the other. Dismemberment is the basic fact of the world they grow up in, a world feeding on stories of rape, kidnapping, murder. But the book opens out from our pulp myths into older stories-like that of Osiris, murdered and dismembered. And in this larger, cyclic perspective, killer and killed, kinds of desire, birth and death fuse in the complex act of the telling through which we shape and in turn are shaped. You won't easily forget this book."—Rosemarie Waldrop


Excerpt


VENUS


In the life of every girl I know, at one time or another, in school, in a museum, she's shown a replica of the Venus de Milo. For some girls, Venus is a translucent projection, for some a plaster doll. The girl stands near the statue with her best friend, and somebody is explaining how Venus is so beautiful, and how, to this very day, she's the most beautiful woman in myth and history combined, that she is beauty and love. Then the grown-ups wander away and the girls look together. The girl's friend has a long blond braid like Rapunzel, and the girl loves her friend's braid. Sometimes she imagines climbing the braid up a stone wall to her friend, and sometimes she imagines her friend chopping off the braid, securing it to the iron leg of the potbellied stove in her tower, and climbing down to her.

The replica of Venus glows before them. They're a little bored, and the girl's friend is wrapping her braid around her neck. It's hard to see if Venus has nipples.

"Someone's knocked off her arms," the girl says to her friend.

"I could do that," says Rapunzel.