Sunday, November 25, 2012

Maddy Spencer says...

'My point is, I've made my entire identity about being smart. Other girls, mostly Miss Slutty Vandersluts, they chose to be pretty; that's an easy enough decision when you're young. As my mom would say 'Every garden looks beautiful in May.' Meaning: Everyone is somewhat attractive when she's young. Among young ladies, it's a default choice, to compete on the level of physical attractiveness. Other girls, those doomed by hooked noses or ravaged skin, settle on being wildly funny. Other girls turn athletic or anorexic or hypochondriac. Lots of girls choose the bitter, lonely, lifetime path of being Miss Snarky Von Snarkskis, armored within their sharp-tongued anger. Another life choice is to become the peppy and upbeat student body politician. Or possibly invent myself as the perennial morose poetess, poring over my private verse, channeling the dreary weltschmerz of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. But, despite so many options, I chose to be smart - the intelligent fat girl who possessed the shining brain, the straight-A student who'd wear sensible, durable shoes and eschew volleyball and manicures and giggling. Suffice it to say that, until recently, I had felt quite satisfied and successful with my own invention. Each of us chooses our personal route - to be sporty or snarky or smart - with the lifelong confidence that one can possess only as a small child.'

- Maddy Spencer (Damned, Chuck Palahniuk, 2011)

Note: This passage is an example of a male writing in the voice of a female. Although I've seen some great examples of a gender-swap narrative, it's never an easy task for a man to be able to accurately write a convincing female voice. There's how we think girls think and act, then there's how girls think that they think and act, and those are usually two very different things. I really like this passage because, although it is pretty obvious that it's a 40something male writing as a teen girl, I think Chuck proves that he has a good understanding of female insecurities and the difficult challenge of a teen girl finding her own identity. But then again, I'm just a male myself, so what do I know!

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