Across the Page: New releases from Laurie Weeks, Ellis Avery and Sally Bellerose

From urban grit to Paris in the ’20s to working class Catholic schoolgirls, the following three new releases offer a wide range of stories and voices: Laurie WeeksZippermouth; Ellis Avery’s The Last Nude; and Sally Bellerose’s The Girls Club.

Zippermouth by Laurie Weeks (Feminist Press)

New York downtown writer Laurie Weeks is most known as a short story writer with work published in anthologies and magazines throughout the last two decades, but her long awaited debut novel, Zippermouth, was well worth the wait.

Zippermouth is the story of a young woman in the East Village in the 1990s. Moving from temp job to temp job, the unnamed narrator has plenty to work through. Addicted to heroin and desperately in love with her “straight” best friend, Jane, the narrator navigates nightclubs, hangovers and the city streets with a raw, honest and undeniably engaging voice.

Weeks’ language is sharp and lyrical. The prose is fast paced and manic, embodying the narrator’s spiral and struggle with addiction — both to drugs and to Jane: “An open space opened in my chest. This was love, a ledge. I stepped off to plunge through the icy blue. Jane, the falling sensation.” 

The narrator’s perspective is as blurred by lust as it is by drugs: “Jane wasn’t stupid, she was flirting. Which meant she wanted me to kiss her, right? Love like liquid Xanax infused my spinal fluid along with a powerful sense of superiority.”

In fact, Weeks shows how there are similarities between the narrator’s desire for Jane and her addiction to heroin — and it doesn’t help that she often experiences the two side by side: “We smiled at one another and left our bodies, laughing with relief. We would snort the dope and vacate out bodies, leaving shells awash in the gentle slosh and whistle of our organs.”

But the narrator is not necessarily better off without Jane. She accidentally picks up a homeless girl who speedballs at her apartment and becomes paranoid that she’s being stalked. She meets a straight guy at a club who wants her to be his dominatrix.

The stream of consciousness storytelling is broken up with brilliant “letters” from the narrator’s childhood. The letters are mostly addressed to dead celebrities and writers that she feels would understand her rage and disappointment and fear.  “Dear Sylvia Plath,” begins one, “Hi I am 14 and I know you’re dead but it’s 1 a.m. and my dad is swearing and falling around in the pool like a drunken pork sausage.”

If you’re familiar with Week’s work — an excerpt from Zippermouth was recently published in Dave Eggers’ The Best American Non-required Reading and she toured with the girl punk group Sister Spit — you will recognize her sharp humor and intelligence in this gritty portrait of, well, love. READ IT!

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