Kathryn Thompson’s writing is what I’d imagined a truly postmodern, feminist writing would be — witty, brilliant, risky, powerful, engaging — informing and reforming the conventions of narrative by infusing it with an immensely pleasurable and slyly instructive female subjectivity. Thompson’s ear is so fine we not only hear the laugh of the Medusa, we hear ourselves laughing with her.
Close Your Eyes and Think of Dublin: Portrait of a Girl
Kathryn Thompson’s Close Your Eyes and Think of Dublin: Portrait of a Girl is a brilliant Joycean hallucination of a book in which the richness of Leopold Bloom’s inner life is found in a young American girl experiencing the things that vexed James Joyce: sex, church, and oppression. Thompson’s favorite mode is Circe, Night Town, the fantastic, and often the nightmarish. Her narrator enters the “realms of the clinically genderless, disrupts the underworld of consensual male meaning, overturns the blackjack tables, busts through the saloon doors, a freelance sheriff in a coon hat.” She has a bold, uncompromising political intelligence and the astonishing capacity not only to finger the culprit — the spirit of the age (“conestoga wagons full of fratboys”) — and make it confess, but also to make it sing: “spew the wet phlegmy expletives, the louies and ralphs of toothless men chewing tobacco on their own benches; suck stone, sign that declaration yea or nea, ptooey and blat just like that.”
She is a marvelous new presence on the American literary scene.
Stand back! Here comes the newest dominatrix of postmodern fiction. Her prose in Close Your Eyes and Think of Dublin: Portrait of a Girl is a strung-out sizzling cybernetic wire, jerking and twitching with monstrous voodoo energy, like some indomitable athlete fed on deconstruction and Dexedrine come alive in words. It is an attenuated howl of pure feminine lust and anger disciplined by real intelligence. This is a beautiful terror of a first novel.
At last, a woman to rival Joyce’s style and Barth’s playfulness, a new writer whose dazzling prose illuminates the real world of family, love, and growing up. This novel will touch you and infuriate you while at all times reaffirming what the art of fiction really is.