Lily James’ deal with the devil has paid off. High Drama in Fabulous Toledo presents a fresh take on the sort of fiction that is knowing, sad, funny, thoughtful, and extreme. Put it in your brain and let it entertain you.
High Drama in Fabulous Toledo
Martin wants to jump off a grocery store sign and Ellen wants to swallow her engagement ring. Jane wants a good beating and Stef wants a castle to himself. Jay wants a bathrobe with a hole in it and Molly wants a cyborg upgrade. When these six characters find themselves embroiled in a kidnapping gone wrong, reality jumps its tracks and Toledo, that rust belt bastion of disrespect, becomes a playground for fiction and fantasy.
James’s postfeminist fiction is smart and accesible; it skips along like a flower girl in moon boots. Still, her trippy narrative packs a wallop with its wry, skin-tight prose, at once insightful and corrosive to reality. Like a postmodern Flannery O’Connor story, High Drama in Fabulous Toledo is unafraid to shake the balance of order and chaos, or toy with our most private fantasies of escape.
Hilarious and tragic, High Drama reverberates with questions about the nature and place of fiction and fantasy in human experience in a parody and exaggeration of that ultimate oymoron: realistic fiction.
These in-your-face fictions are the epitome of the post-feminist writing we call chick-lit.
The Great Taste of Straight People
While academics argue over who actually invented the word “postfeminism,” writers like Lily James are engaged in the task of creating what comes after the feminist movement. Beyond the buzz, chick-lit postfeminist writing has created some of the hippest eye-catchers in contemporary fiction. This fiction is funny, wry and new. As Eurudice commented, “It is a must-have for girls that have considered selling out.”
In The Great Taste of Straight People, Lily James spanks the eternal theme of Chaos vs. Order. Her characters are True Believers, obsessed with the desire to organize relationships, behaviors, and entire lives around earnestly illogical systems. These stories are sincere yet always surprising, brainy yet always entertaining.
These in-your-face fictions are the epitome of the post-feminist writing we call chick-lit. Not only are these pieces funny, perplexing, hysterical, histronic, loud, astute, disturbing, playful, sharp-edged, and scathing, in their frenzy they demonstrate the range of ideas a woman can write about.
Like so many of her “chick-lit” peers, James (editor of the on-line Postfeminist Playground) shows a poignant, almost Kerouac-ian faith in the products of her pen — no matter whether the subject is loutish boyfriends, caricatured feminists, the travails of middle-class girlhood, vague fantasies of thrill kills or the questionnaires in women’s magazines. Sometimes, in James’s case, the rambling pays off in a clever one-liner — as when a pregnant woman considers naming her child Dignity even though “if a girl the obvious porn career, Hot Dignity Dog, made it a bad choice.” More often, however, these 19 stories trail off without even that; most could pass for e-mails written to pass a long, uninspired afternoon.