Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

The Talking Room


The Talking Room
by Marianne Hauser

Paperback
1976
Price: $10.95

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The Talking Room reflects an apocalyptic vision of the late 20th century, seen through the eyes of a pregnant 13 year old who may not be a test tube baby. The Lesbian relationshop between the mother J--wild, lost, beautiful--and competent Aunt V, a business woman, reveals itself to the reader as "the talking room" becomes the sounding board for the endless fights, endless reconciliations. V's desperate search for the beloved J through the nights of waterfront bars is lightened by wildly comic excursions reminiscent of our great American humorists. With wit, poetic clarity and compassion, Marianne Hauser explores the paradoxes of our age--need for love yet flight from love, search for self yet self-destruction--a dilema shared alike by today's heterosexual and homosexual world. The author's multifaceted view defies dogma or simplification as her characters draw us into their turbulent and deeply human drama.


"...the most insanely perfect novel I have experienced in...20 years. Vladimir Nabokov, roll over." —Steve Katz


 

Excerpt


Again I can hear their voices coming nonstop from the talking room downstairs. I hear them through the rumble of the trucks in the night rain as I lie on my back between moist sheets, listening. And I know they are talking about me. But they call me an idea.

B? She was your idea and don't you deny it.

Hush, dearest!

Your idea, not mine, the whole sick deal.

Hush! Hush!

Go hush youself, you had it figured out to a T, planned parenthood--my aunt!--with me for mom and the test tube for pop, you really lapped that up, so sanitary, safer, you said, than some fly-by-night barfly, though anything will do. You said a little bastard is better than nothing, but make it snappy. Sweet Christ. You couldn't wait another second to play house.

You are drunk.

Just mellow, honey V, your mellow fellow. Sweet Jesus why couldn't you play in your own sand box? Why did you have to stick your finger into my mud pie?

You're getting ugly, J.

Yes, I the J and you the V. We are initials. Our names got lost in the rumpled sheets, and what, my love, my dove, will they write on our communal headstone? Two capital letters? One capital lie? Here lies the lie, the fly, initial parents of one baby B, excuse the fart. The part you forced on me--I wasn't cut out for it, don't you see? I never learned to play mother. No football coach showed me.

There...Sit by me...Please, don't have another, lie down...Stretch out...I'll rub your back...There. There now...

Rub. Moan. But it's the wind I hear. The boats moan on the river. They cry for the ocean. The voices in the talking room go dead. I've smothered them with my pillow, and maybe I invented them in any case. How would I know? It happened a long time ago, like yesterday. Those voices, I can turn them up or down like the pocket transistor I keep going under my pillow for company to beat time to my night dreams. Aunt V says it's bad for the head.

Bad for the head, she said to mom, to sleep with the radio on. Static, congressional investigations and body counts: it's unhealthy fare for an adolescent. Now if she tuned in on Vivaldi or Verdi it would be a horse of a different feather, but no, she gorges herself on the popular junk, candy, cookie & cake mix commercials when her mind should be on her diet to lose weight. Tell her to switch it off, J. You are her mother.

(Yes tell me, mother, smother me with a bear hug. Confiscate my little transistor: Smash it against the mirror. But kiss me good night.)

For crying out loud, V! Leave her alone.