Berlin 1 Approaches to Carole Maso's AVA Monica Berlin

As the essays in this casebook examine, the difficulty of teaching a text by Carole Maso is the difficulty of teaching our students to think in new ways. I use excerpts from Maso's work, usually just after midterms, when energy is disappearing. I shyly hand out the work and ask my students to consider what we, as readers and writers, are being given within these seemingly fragmented pages. Nearly all of the students return to the next session energized, thoughtful, filled with questions about form (something most of them had never considered before), and a little afraid. The difficulty of teaching Maso's work is reminiscent of the difficulty of teaching students to correctly use the semicolon, which insists that the sentence exists in the process—on the verge—of becoming something else. Massachusetts poet Mary Ruefle explains that the semicolon (which, as it happens, is the least common mark in all of poetry) allows us to go on connecting speech that for all apparent purpose is unrelated. She asks us to consider the poem as a semicolon, "a living semicolon, which connects the first line to the last, the act of keeping together that whose nature is to fly apart." Ruefle goes on to insist that between the first and last line, "there exists a poem—and if it were not for what exists in between the first and last line, there would be no poem." I like to think of Carole Maso's work in this way; the 265 pages that comprise AVA are the clauses of Ava Klein's lifelong sentence. Each is independent of the next while simultaneously being reliant on both what has come before and what might follow. If it were not for the imagined first and last breath of the novel's protagonist, which exist beyond the pages of the text, there could not be the middle that is AVA. Graciously hailed by critics as groundbreaking and allusive, daring and lyric, symphonic and sensually evocative, upon its release by Dalkey Archive Press in 1993, AVA received a great deal of acclaim for its voluminous experimental possibilities. Nearly all the book's critics noted what becomes quite important to the essays that follow, how the world Maso offers exists dangerously on the margins of being and nonbeing. The New York Times review explained that "Like a piece of music, AVA uses repetition and thematic layering to create a shimmering, impressionistic portrait that eschews linear narrative in favor of the sensations aroused by resonant imagery" (Smith 23). Undoubtedly, as readers and as teachers, we must insist to both our students and to ourselves that AVA is no place to nail down characters or names, plots or (re)actions, nor will I do that here in this introduction. Moreover, in spite of itself, AVA is indeed logical, organized, and ordered; only it relies on a different system of order, logic, and meaning, as the close reader is apt to discover. Still, in the way that the text is shaped, making a chronology of events or a list of dates and places feels irrelevant and unnecessary. Yes, AVA calls itself a novel; but arguably,

Berlin 2 AVA is also not a novel. It is a work of lyric proportions: written and unwritten, done and undone, created, dispersed, and re-created. Such destruction of coherent meaning and the pattern of Maso's prose insists that readers believe AVA to be neither traditional narrative nor typical poetry. In this way Carole Maso creates in AVA a work of extremity and urgency. Breaking life in parts on the last day of Ava Klein's life, Maso develops a work called a novel but with all the characteristics of a poem. She captures the fragmented essence of life (in the midst of dying) in its totality, experienced through the body's sense of both infinity and affinity. Because Ava Klein is the witness to other's extremes while she herself is entering into death, both the author and the narrator are able to find a place where opposites do not clash but, instead, work together. AVA is a patchwork of voices that intuitively explores how language, as it currently exists, cannot speak universally because, as Maso suggests, the narrator's struggle is "The struggle all along—how to accept one's inner voice" (177). AVA speaks completely in each fragment, with no obvious or clear connection to the next fragment. Each line written, however, simultaneously speaks to the lines that come before and the words written thirty pages later. Every poetic sentence in AVA depends on every poetic sentence contained in the text—every word depends on every word—and yet each utterance can stand on its own, complete in its wordness, though every line relies heavily on every other line in every moment of AVA. For example, in the development of the phrase "come quickly" throughout the work, we can grasp AVA in its totality. A throbbing. Come quickly. The light in your eyes. (3) ______ Where are those voluptuous sorrowful songs? The lit temple? the jewels? The things I would have liked to have known. No—the things I needed to know. Come quickly, my mother says, there are finches at the feeder. Not yet, Dr. Oppenheim. On the slight possibility that I should survive. (53) ______ Show me the way there. My mother—dressed in a gown of gold satin. Suppose it had been me? Come quickly, she says, there are finches at the feeder. Afternoon. (138-39) ______

Berlin 3 Treblinka Come quickly, Ava. Blood transfusion. Even though you were afraid: you held my hand; you said. (264) The varying contexts within which readers discover the phrase "come quickly" allow us to identify with the familiarity of two words whose repetition is readily felt and understood while simultaneously questioning the previous existing meaning of the phrase. We understand "come quickly" differently when placed before "the light in your eyes" than we do if it is the utterance spoken after "Treblinka." In part Maso wants readers' minds to call up the image, say of finches at the feeder, with the repetition of certain words and yet she wants each word to be a new beginning. She tells us that "Other strange things happen: each page I write could be the first page of the book. Each page is completely entitled to be the first page" (58). We can begin to see this argument most clearly when the naming of AVA is addressed in early discussion. Here we can offer a lens through which we can first focus on the nonlinear qualities necessary to an acceptance and comprehension of Maso's attempt at a Borgesian text. While the title can be read as either an allusion to Eve (the first woman) or Ava Maria (Mary/Madonna), AVA is most simply a palindrome. Ava is still Ava, backward and forward. References to both Hélène Cixous and Jorge Luis Borges within the text establish the narrative's need for a text that neither begins nor ends—for a work that is constantly shifting and unstable, nonlinear as well as noncyclical. The tiered structure of tradition fades away in AVA and as with the text, there is no solid beginning etched in a particular time and no end that couldn't be the beginning or the middle. Of course in more traditional literature we expect to approach a text that contains a beginning and an end, but in AVA this linear progression exists nowhere. Students, who may be struggling with this seeming lack of linearity, can be comforted by what Maso, herself, tells us: I do not pretend to understand how disparate sentences and sentence fragments that allow in a large field of voices and subjects, linked to each other quite often by mismatched syntax and surrounded by space for 265 pages, can yield new sorts of meanings and wholeness. I do not completely understand how such fragile, tenuous mortal connections can suggest a kind of forever. How one thousand Chinese murdered in a square turn into one thousand love letters in the dying Ava Klein's abstracting mind. (Conjunctions 172) The connections therein are not explicit in the form of the text, nor in Ava's life, nor in her death, and certainly not in the relationship of the sexual to the work. According to Karen Osborne's review in the Chicago Tribune, at the center of AVA "is a reckless, incandescent desire" (6) where neither sadness nor pleasure comes to an end, not even

Berlin 4 after intercourse, when she and her lover are feeling the words come back. For Ava Klein, remembering lovemaking is another aspect of the lovemaking, remembering the life she has lived keeps it from closure, despite death. Everything means, is defined, by Ava so differently that readers know immediately how Ms. Klein neither lives by the same standards as the rest of the world nor loved in the same manner we have. She loves so much—"Truth be told there is not one day that has gone by where I have not fallen in love with someone, with something" (94)—that we come to respect the ways in which the narrative succeeds most at this level. In fact, both the sexual and the sensual realms of AVA are transformed into what is perhaps one of the novel's central metaphoric explorations into "The zone of speechlessness one sometimes enters during sex, the tug of silence, the weird filling in with words that do not seem to make sense" (Aureole IX). We should also assure our students, who do not want to surrender the knowledge they have of literary forms, that it is necessary not to neglect the characteristics of the novel present in AVA. Readers must, however, be acutely aware of AVA's desire to be something more: The desire of the novel to be a poem. The desire of the girl to be a horse. The desire of the poem to be an essay. The essay's desire, its reach towards fiction. And the obvious erotics of this. Virginia Woolf knew the illusion of fiction is gradual even if moments are heart stopping, breathtaking. There is a pattern, which is only revealed as patterns are, through elongation and perspective, the ability to see a whole, a necklace of luminous moments strung together. How to continue the progression, the desire to go beyond the intensity of the moment or of moments. Like sex, one has to figure out how to go on after the intensity of the moment—how in effect to compose a life after that, how to conjure back a world worth living in, a world which might recall, embrace the momentary, glowing obliterating, archetypal. One longs for everything. For the past one never experienced, for the future one will never know—except through the imaginative act. One longs to be everything. To have everything. A certain spaciousness. There would be time and room for it all. The creation of an original space. The desire for an original space in which to work. ("Notes" 23) Clearly, Maso neither neglects the position of the novel nor negates the essence of poetry. Our students can grasp this notion more completely if we insist that AVA's form, its quality of being between genres, is not necessarily a threat to the order of language or society, but rather a redefining of order and boundaries. The work that is AVA pirouettes on the edges between modern, postmodern, and contemporary discourse while reaching with longing toward the traditional novel's form. While glancing over its shoulder to the coherent shapes which exist in a more ordered world, AVA stands in a genre all its own.

Berlin 5 We might also add to the discussion that the text offers a fragmented reflection of Ava, by Ava, on the last day of her life, perhaps in an attempt to escape the inadequacy and dangers of language. Ava knows that her struggle to find closure and structure for the life that is ending and for the stories she must tell, which both belong to her and are not hers, may fail just as conventional form and tidy endings have failed others before her who needed to speak. Throughout, Maso attempts to liberate the nature of language from the notions of mechanical progression and false order imposed through literature. For instance, Ava Klein knows that memory is not limited to her particular experience but is the experience of all who have come before and all those to follow. Perhaps this is how we can best understand the interweaving of voices throughout the narrative. In the fleeting instances when Ava's memories coincide with the memories of those who are dead, which occurs throughout her last day, Ava both believes she has a future and is able to let go. In her attempt to leave the flaws of language behind, to leave as witness readers of this text, Ava reenters language from a different position. To this end, the beauty of what is unsaid and the failure of what has been spoken, for Ava, are strongly apparent. Deficiencies of words are best exemplified in AVA through the voices of the dead—many of whom died as a result of their language or their use of language—that fill the text with the fragmented nature of their impressions. Paradoxically, protected by this space in which the speaking subject can move freely from one subject position to another or merge with the world, Ava Klein feels deeply secure about the life she has lived and the life she is about to abandon. The narrative is created by constructions similar to those of memory itself. Ava searches for "What the story was—and if not the real story—well then, what the story was for me" (125), which Maso believes is an essentially necessary aspect of coming into one's separate existence. Ava comes to know herself as a separate being, as "I," within the reflection she sees in others. Thus discovering her likeness in the mirror of literature, she immediately identifies with herself and yet the reflection is something unfamiliar and frightening. Because death of the body, for Ava, brings up a multitude of issues—"What is offhand, overheard. Bits of remembered things" (6)—awareness of the failure of language is often touched by both death and this coming to know oneself. Ava is touched by many deaths: the extermination camps of World War II: "Treblinka, a rather musical word" (99); AIDS: "Are you positive? Yes, I am extremely positive, Aldo said. In fact, I've got the first signs—forgetfulness, night sweats" (99); suicides by writers and artists: "After all this time. Primo Levi tries to fly. Paul Celan underwater. . . . And the drowned poet says:" (99); lovers lost in the sky: "Lost in the air in his [Anatole's] one truly hopeful, joyful act" (131); strangers in the streets: "A bullet shot into the air kills a twelve-yearold girl out shopping for a summer dress and sandals with her mother" (129); victims of political struggles: "García Lorca, learning to spell, and not a day too soon" (113), not to mention the end of her own life wherein Ava is "pulled toward the irresistible music of the end" (258). It is through the musical tone of the text, the music toward which Ava is pulled, that the character of Ava Klein redefines the feminine. At the center of her life, which is in itself an erotic song cycle, is the body. Ava's body is a sensual exile that allows her to move beyond the linear discourse familiar in traditional literature and conversation toward "the

Berlin 6 seduction that is, that has always been language" (227). Because eroticism is the only sense of subjectivity in AVA, this use of the erotic as subject offers an exit from the need to acquire power and self in relation to the dyadic nature of patriarchal law and structure. Ava's body and the centering of the text around her body should not, however, be read as the origin of desire or the end of desire. Ava's body exists rather in moments and as a gesture of desire. The body (Ava's dying body) confronts its own absence from itself, which is never so intensely experienced than in this sorrow of what will never be done. What Ava seeks without knowing, what she questions in the silence of the text, is the body unmarked by patriarchal or feminist signifiers—the body and the text's white space remains untouched by the dyads of gendered or didactic discourse. The deceptive shifts in point of view and the dangerous fragmentary lines as narrative techniques employ the belief that writing is a way both of recovering the self, once lost, and a way of discovering the self. In AVA Maso discovers and unfolds her narrator while weaving abstract musing with concrete realism. The narrative journey is one that plunges into the depths of the self and into the arc of language's possibilities. Exploring the concept of seeing self as "you" as a way to come to terms with the "I," allows the sexual provocativeness of the text to help us to better understand Ava Klein. In the most simplistic terms, the text is filled with words of physicality. Through the physical, the sensual, readers can discover Ava's sense of the erotic within the context of living and within the content of life as background or foreground or foreplay, for that matter. There is profound beauty to the novel's searching and to the panic of Ava's relationship with others, powerful threads in her life, to which we, as readers, can relate. The hurried "urgency, for you in that apartment vestibule. It should have been obvious, even then" (24), and the frantic pace of the narrative's sexuality allows the reader to absent herself within AVA's erotica. Ava Klein clearly relies heavily on the power of sexuality to turn her fate. While some of the most powerful aspects of feminine writing include the way sexual overtones are implied, sexuality goes through a series of tonal changes in AVA. The role of the sexual in the text allows Ava Klein constantly to reinvent herself through its fragmented form, thus enabling a complete abandonment of the ideal sexual relationship. Without hesitation, readers know that Ava and her lovers are colored by sexual desire: Later in the circular room, we danced for hours to Prince. He pulled me toward him. He pushed me away. I have a woman and a child, he whispered over and over, in broken English. It must have been what he wanted. He must have wanted to touch a boundary, to feel some limit. He watched me dance away. __________ But you are married, I thought, I said to the stranger. You have a woman and child.

Berlin 7 Keep the light on. Take me from behind this time. __________ Overheard, bits of remembered things, In letters, or on the beach __________ Take me from behind this time. Or at the moment of desire. (50-51) At moments like this in the narrative, which at first seem easy to dismiss because of casual way sex is addressed, Ava points to the nearly inaudible, broken language shared between herself and this stranger, Jean-Luc. Rather the words which we, the reader, are not supposed to hear—perhaps because Jean-Luc is married, perhaps because in him Ava sees the possibilities of escaping her loss over Anatole, her second husband who had been dead nearly a season (50), or perhaps because in his desire to feel the limits of himself, Ava will be able to dissolve her own boundaries—imply a complex and simultaneous act of translation, complicated first by the very essence of language which connotes and denotes meanings and symbols differently to each speaker/listener and second by the theory that men and women do not speak the same language: All the personal pronouns—j/e, m/on, m/a, m/es—are split to emphasize the disintegration of the self that occurs every time women speak male language (37). Nearly all of Ava's lovers are from foreign lands and do not speak the same language as Ava. Hence, not only is speech translated once through the very act of using words as symbols, but a second time because of the gender differences of language. Finally, a third translation is necessary between Ava and her loves, from their foreign tongues to the other foreign tongue. Within the narrative, silence between Ava and her sexual partners, between one fragment and the next, functions not as a nonlanguage but rather as the only language whose words need not be put through a series of translation. The constructions of silence which dominate this text function as a parallel discourse through which Ava affirms Hélène Cixous's belief that "Almost everything is yet to be written by women about their infinite and complex sexuality, their eroticism" (216). Yet, despite Maso's affinity for écriture féminine and her "intermingling the implications of language and body" (Harris 110), many French feminists "theorize writing the body as a gender issue, [while] Maso reveals her lyrical bent in her attachment to more traditional notions of subjectivity and voice" (Harris 108). Often, Western feminists claim women's silence is essentially linked to women's oppression, but Maso turns silence into something that heals. The textual spacing in AVA, as well as the character's own attraction toward quiet, implies that

Berlin 8 muting allows for empowerment of the self and that silence is more true than meaning produced in language. Through the silence of the text, the music toward which Ava is pulled, Maso engages readers to redefine the ways through which we are taught to approach the seeming inaccessibility of such a work. We learn that such pauses appear as metaphor for the impossibility of articulation and for the inability of words to represent anything fully. Only within the blank white spaces that separate Ava's thoughts can we begin to accept that the alienation felt by Ava throughout rests partially in her inability to equate the self with the language spoken around her, but not in her inability to assimilate truth and power of an ideal language, where, according to Cixous, You will have literary texts that tolerate all kinds of freedom—unlike the more classical texts—which are not texts that delimit themselves, are not texts of territory with neat borders, with chapters, with beginnings, endings, etc., and which will be a little disquieting because you do not feel the Border. The edge. (113) By writing the body and death of the body as Maso does, AVA creates an experience absent of the symbolic order, absent of any order except that of "The ideal or the dream [which] would be to arrive at a language that heals as much as it separates" (53). Unfortunately, some of AVA's critics feel that this is where the novel falters, insisting that "the novel never satisfactorily explains how a 'feminine text' can heal while a conventional one separates" (Smith 23). More unfortunate, however, is Smith's misunderstanding of the feminist principle that heavily influences the craft of AVA and her inability to seek such an explanation within the blank spaces of the text. On the other hand, Michael Dorsey points out that at times "the novel falls short of its promise, not from a shortcoming in what she [Maso] has written so much as from the vastness of that promise" (1). Further, he admits that for this very reason he comes to love the book "simply because it illuminates possibility and promises a terrain that is infinite" (1). And perhaps, more than anything, AVA is a book of infinite promise—of infinity promised. Little has been made of the white space within AVA beyond its stylistically visual element and/or experimental strategy, yet within the physical spaces between lines, Maso explores the possibilities of development of our true nature and our true langue shown through the healing of silence. Additionally, because pauses appear in the narrative at points where the inexpressible erupts into the narration—where meaning breaks down and is lost—we come to accept the often-brutal nature of the thoughts in Ava Klein's mind. For example, how can we, the reader, continue reading after the horror of these phrases: The parents now being asked once more to survive

Berlin 9 Not again. Yes. Try not, if you can relate it to that. In the French cemetery Jewish graves dug up in the night. Skeletons. Swastikas. The skeletons hung up and asked— Please stop. To die again. (164-65) Ava, herself, must break between each thought. The painful sense of each phrase, and the connection of her parents' survival from the terrors of the Holocaust to surviving their own daughter, is a weight we carry with us. We too need a moment to collect our feelings. I return to what Ava says about her father who hated endings of all kinds (186) and to his actions, which are, in essence, a dual metaphor. As God had spared his wife and him through the harsh night of the death camps, Mr. Klein acts as a benevolent higher being who believes he must spare a small part of everything he touches. Leaving the lone basil in the garden, the bite of oatmeal in the dish, Ava's father symbolically saves another life that was lost. It is his way of naming the more than six million Jews killed, whose names cannot all be known. This way, he believes, something will always survive. Perhaps, more importantly, his gestures serve as a representation of hope: despite the consumption of the Jewish people there must always be something/someone left to carry on. His gestures insure that the memory always exists. And yet in contradiction to his attempt at avoiding endings, he is once more being asked to continue in what is perhaps the most difficult survival of all: a parent outliving his child—"Gone, my father whispers" (207). Ava's death is most distressing at this level when we are asked to consider the pain her parents must go through yet again. As the text develops, however, we come to accept what Maso has done—the connections she draws between the physical closure of love and the spiritual closure that comes with dying. Ava's father knows there is no closure for the dead. He insists, through his relationship to the world, that death is not an ending because nothing is forgotten and something is always left behind to serve as reminder. But Ava's father also knows that there is no language with which to speak about the dead. Ava's father (and Ava too) knows that he cannot say their names; they no longer have names. In his silence, his actions whisper. His gestures, however, cannot take a grammatical form. Silence does not have a grammatical form—we cannot diagram a moment of silence. And Mr. Klein knows that we cannot put a period after the silence—cannot mark the silence with an end stop, because the loss goes on. Such silence, moreover, offers both Ava and the reader

Berlin 10 space to heal—because there are no words which can be offered to make these parallels any more bearable. In part, as readers we are asked to leap repeatedly, to make connections that are only clear to Ava on this last dying day. And yet Ava tells us that the relationship between her thoughts may not even make sense to her: "Two Germanys become one. In a graveyard in France Jewish skeletons are dug up and hung to blow in the breeze. Putting these two sentences next to each other as I have doesn't necessarily mean anything" (74). Ava demands, in these instances, that we rely on the aesthetically silent spaces in the text— they allow us (and Ava) the space to breathe. Rather, it is in these places where Ava must confront "the hurt of the century" and where the reader, in order to continue the harsh reality AVA insists upon, has to infer links between things that are not explicitly connected or assume meanings that are not given in the text itself. Silence, as a literary tool, is something uncomfortable to the reader in part because we rely on the established rules of language within the temporal framework of text—we do not rely on an author's breaking of such guidelines. Yet, in AVA, the reader finds a fractured world that is difficult to access: The world falls apart as you read. One hopes, by the end that the impact of the fractures are not only understood, but felt. Because having been engaged, involved in the fluency of images, when they begin to dissolve, one feels dissolved as well. Only senseless shards remain, disrupted syntax, words detached from their meanings. A bleak code calling up the lost, the fluent, the integrated world, once whole. Language enacts the speed and degree and manner of breakdown. We are forced to Witness an entire history: a world is born, evolves, warps and finally breaks. Breakdown is dramatized, imaginative and linguistic ways of escape are cut off. ("Notes" 30) The repetitive function of victims throughout Ava's story enables the reader to understand why Ava Klein is capable of decoding the messages of witness—"Such clarity finally. Why not earlier? Why at such cost?" (226). Like the many ghosts which surround her on her last day, Ava tries to untangle her own confused past by attempting to understand the workings of the world left behind for her in the texts of others. We can identify Ava with all survivors; both are distracted by the remains and traces left by victims—the "Nostalgia. What is remembered. What never existed except as remembrance" (132). Ava becomes a survivor at the exact moment when she is the most vulnerable: a victim of death. Her survival rests in the meaning of her life, set before the reader as this text, and her victimization becomes the physical illness that has invaded her body, making what she once knew intimately (her body) more and more foreign to her. And we can identify Ava's longings with those of the writers about whom she speaks; all linger in the spaces between words, want what they cannot have, and attempt to mold the future because of someone else's past: That's always the writer's struggle, finding a genuine language in which to speak, given all the silence, given everything . . . . [In] Ava, the silence is really a presence, a character. It exists as much as anything else exists in that book. And I

Berlin 11 was really struck by the silence of death, the silence of living after World War II, the speechlessness. I read a great deal of the Holocaust writers. I read Celan; a lot of his struggle is how is it possible to speak, is there anything to say. He speaks in code. He really struggles with the silence. It's such a moving struggle. Another person I read, an Egyptian Jewish writer who also works in fragments and is very interested in silence, is Edmund Jabès. It seemed very important that Ava Klein be Jewish. The question of can one speak, is it possible to speak. (Cooley 34) Analogies are so clearly drawn between the layers of AVA and other works of literature, in part because Maso herself connects her own writing with the writings of others, that one cannot help but combine and bleed these layers in order to piece together the intricate patterns of the characters' minds and the complexities of the modernization of the world for all literary figures. In AVA the past is a rehearsal of the present and the present often appears to be a reenactment of the past. Ava spends her life, as it appears on her last day, living for the moment wherein she can remember and pay tribute to the writers for whom she mirrors. Even in her last act, dying, Ava wants "to save Virginia Woolf from drowning. Hart Crane. Primo Levi from falling. Paul Celan, Bruno Schultz, Robert Desnos" (20), just as readers wish they could save Ava. The similarities between the difficulties and failures faced by the authors Maso speaks for, and about, are rooted in the bankruptcy and decay of the generations before them. Like Ava, beyond personal loss and grief, the artists she brings back to life on her deathbed felt the failure, the disease, and the decomposition of whole cultures. Symbolic of the inherited tragedy of failure, that Ava is left to carry on and come to terms with, are the words of others that fill a majority of Ava's thoughts on her last day. Because Ava is dying, she becomes privileged to perceptions she had at some point misunderstood. In her hospital bed, reinterpretation becomes possible. Tell me again, everything you want. I'm feeling the form—finally. A more spacious form. After all this time. Breathe (212). The tenses of time captured by memory in AVA draw all time into an uncertain progression. There are instances in the narrative where the reader questions whether Ava possesses her memories or whether she is her memory. The hallucinatory reactivation of memory-traces sometimes totally obliterates the present moment so much so that the present does not become real until she can look back on it and qualify its pastness. Because it seems that Ava Klein consistently loses time, is in and out of time, the narrative seems to be frequently interrupted with dreams and dreamlike imagery—with the rebuilding of memory.

Berlin 12 Nothing justifies the paradoxical loss and desire of AVA more in the text than during Ava's anamnesis, a result of which insists that the words of the dead become the center of AVA. The reflection of these characters trying to escape the inadequacy and dangers of language through death is an incomplete movement because someone living will not or cannot let their words go. Ava will not let their words be forgotten and yet she too is dying. Ava's emotional attachment to the phrases of others is representative of her inability to release the dead—their memories, their touch, or in their words. Clearly, as we come to realize Ava is dying, we begin to understand that she ends her life remembering time in the only way any past can make sense, through memory. AVA begins at a place in time beyond the reader's capable understanding of time—a place filled with inaccurate accounts of moments without chronology because, on the last day of one's life, the nature of order changes. Ava Klein knows there is no tomorrow because "it is suddenly all too clear, that we are losing" (153). She has been witness to the empty shells of men who want "simply to tell it (though not without some consideration for the people he mentions by name): his life" (146); to the monstrous tyrants of our century like "Josef Schwammberger carrying sacks of gold from the mouths of victims, and jewelry" (112) and "Adolf Hitler [who] pedals a tricycle" (96); and to the living corpse of "Ezra Pound [who] walks along a canal in his dreamy, last madness" (96). Ava has seen "Samuel Beckett alone in the dark. When no provisions come. Waiting. But no provisions come" (141-42); also "Primo Levi poised at the top of the stairs" (160) and the composer who has "come to die with you, Erik Satie in the air-raid shelter, dressed in funeral garb, announces" (160). She knows that these ghosts have either pasts or presents. Such echoes are the voices that Ava must listen to on her last day. Still, she refuses to become like those whose peace of mind is denied them as long as they have not clearly recovered their memories and their consciousness of identity: like Celan "And the poems the drowned man wrote—and the songs" (190) or Ava's own dear father who "cannot bear endings of any kind. Leaving one spoonful of oatmeal in his bowl. One basil plant in the ground in winter" (186). Ava Klein knows that memory is not limited to just her particular experience but is the experience of all who have come before and all those to follow. This is how we can best understand the interweaving of voices throughout the narrative. Only when her past is eventually relived, as it is on the last day of her life, as she remembers, does death become possible again. Through memory she can begin "losing the vague dread" (236); however, the possibility of death brings the cycle back around; in the rare fleeting instances when Ava's memories coincide with the memories of those who are dead, Ava believes she has a future. Moreover, Ava Klein believes that if she is able to translate the meaning of all the lost lives, then she will be able to find her own history and subsequently find herself within the language of literature, which she has always worshipped and loved. More clearly, the language that Ava would like to claim as her own is the language of her dead mentors and yet she knows their language failed them as it is failing her. She is painfully aware that the words in which she finds comfort are not her lovers' words—but are the absent words and the silence. In part, too, the silence which pervades the text, can be read as a postscript to the twentieth century's disavowing of language which examines what is "The imperceptible of the text, the unconscious dimension that escapes the writer, the reader" (161). In Maso's attempt to right/write the past, she has produced a text that

Berlin 13 allows the possibility for the most abstract of reflections: the limits of language. The failure of language to register experience becomes most evident when Ava tries to confront horror. Ava Klein's sentences, in these instances, are more fractured—break off too soon—her words represent a pause, are sometimes reluctant. Ava's "groping for language, her at times hesitant, tentative use of the word, and her breaking of syntactical structures represent an attempt to regenerate" the sometimes fatal and often propagandalike nature of words in the twentieth century. In AVA we acutely feel the desperate failing of language as it has been. Ava Klein's struggle to articulate the terror and the beauty of the twentieth century is strongly apparent in the voices of the dead, which speak during nearly every moment of Ava Klein's last day. Death, throughout the text, is closely related to both solitude and language, subjects toward which Ava is driven in her very nature. Readers easily piece together that Ava is the representative figure of aloneness, a professor and lover of literature, a thirty-nine-year-old woman married three times, divorced twice, once widowed, with "Uncountable lovers. All forgotten. All cherished," without children, the daughter of Holocaust survivors and a Wandering Jew who knows she must Learn to love the questions themselves. The spaces between words. Between thoughts. The interval. (171) In part, for this reason, some critics—including National Public Radio's Allen Cheuse, who said in a review of AVA that "more than meeting her maker, it seems like Ava Klein is getting ready for the GRE" (qtd. in Cooley 33)—have condemned AVA for its selfindulgent form and its self-involved content. Yet, the text rises above these traps, as most readers come to see. On her last day, Ava makes an extreme sacrifice. She gives voice to hundreds who can no longer speak instead of allowing herself to say everything that must be said. We hear from biblical "Moses the stutterer, [for whom] no words are available with which to articulate the essential, the election of suffering that is history" (61); and from the contemporary artist Keith Haring, whose "radiant baby [is] crawling though the dark city" (40). Ava listens to Paul Celan, the drowned poet, whispering "We drink and we drink you" (38) again and again, and to her own beloved friends and family who have passed away: Aunt Sophie, Uncle Solly, Grandpa and Grandma, Uncle Isaac, Anatole, Ana Julia, and Aldo (her friend who died of AIDS). Ava ensures that no death is portrayed as more painful or ugly than any other, including her own. Every dead voice is given equal space to speak because the text allows us to build connections between the relative characteristics of death in the twentieth century. For instance, there is a direct correlation between possible genocidal features of AIDS and the definite distinguishing marks of the landscape of death and the anonymous mass graves of our century. The book is built and relies on waves of association like this. The waves of AVA become even more powerful for readers because AVA is offered as a product of imagination: "Offhand, overheard, remembered things. Imaginary things"

Berlin 14 (125). Maso has always "loved poetry most, but at the same time felt the need for a larger canvas: a series of panels, a series of screens. [Her] form is always an odd amalgam— taken from painting, sculpture, theory, film, music, poetry, dance, mathematics—even fiction sometimes" ("Essay" 27). As a result, in the presence of Ava Klein, readers experience a shift in the nature of freedom which is constructed into the subjectivity of the narrator, whose words are laced with hope and fear for the life that is leaving her. The text opens in the first person plural of Ava's past: "Each holiday celebrated with real extravagance. Birthdays. Independence days. Saints' days. Even when we were poor. With verve" (3); and then shifts to a second person imperative of the narrator's imagination: "Come sit in the morning garden for awhile" (3), addressing "you" with certain urgency. The men, all absent in the future tense except Danilo, are addressed as "you," hence the insistent use of the second person imperative links readers to the absent men. But we must not solely accept this identification; we need to identify with the "you" as well as the narrator. Added to the already complex reading of AVA is the shifting function of the pronouns throughout. Paralleling the transformation of the "I" into "she" which makes first-, second-, and third-person (singular and plural) narration possible in AVA, we are able to envision Ava Klein as a three-dimensional character: I remember how my parents would weep uncontrollably and without warning, on a summer day, or in the car on the way to school, or during a simple game of Hide and Seek. But not that day. I called them at the summerhouse. (53) You are a wild one, Ava Klein. (4) She finds herself on a foreign coast on her thirty-third birthday. (118) We were working on an erotic song cycle. It was called Long Life. (119) In the above quotations, for example, the other is both another subject, although the object of representation, and a distinct representation of the self, as well. The narrator constructs the other as fictional subject by displacing her own story onto the stories of the other figures in the text and by concurrently displacing the stories of others onto Ava's own. By transforming the "I" into "she" and "you" and "they" and "he" and "we," the narrating subject is able to look at herself as the object of discourse. The second-person pronoun represents the absent object, which is most important but more subtle in the narrator's "I," thus allowing the subject/Ava to absent herself—to remain seemingly nameless as narrator, although we know she/I/you is always and never Ava Klein. By writing about other people who absorb Ava's tragic but beautiful life rather than Maso demanding Ava's "I" center the novel, the narrator introduces a "you," who appears not only as an audience but also as the self disguised as "she." For all readers of AVA, submersion into the narrative's "you" empowers us to become the subject of the text, although the subjectified identity may feel somewhat pornographic at times. Acceptance of the "you" enables readers to experience their own absence and/or to

Berlin 15 assume sympathy with the narrator that may be contrary to our interest, yet the narrator implies that if we are to assume this "you" that we may forget many things—most of all we may forget that we are separate from this work. Ava Klein is not in search of love, she's in search of desire—a desire stronger than herself, and she is in search of freedom— or the desire implicit in freedom. She allows us to examine and re-vision our ideals about sexuality and sensuality while simultaneously begging identification between the character of the dead and the elemental attributes of living. AVA contemplates humanity on every level through the concurrent marginality and centrality of Ava Klein's existence. On the most simplistic plane, we can locate what is real to and for Ava. The purity of images within the text, whether it be that "We ran through genêt and wild sage" (3) or the presence of "A mournful book" (95), give us something concrete to grasp, to hold. Yet this innocence, placed in such an intricately patterned and convoluted world, allows readers an opportunity to examine the notions of normalcy that define the space within which we live and begs the question of how we define our ever-shifting self. If AVA has an agenda, it is one of simultaneous reverence for the past and desire for a changed future. The fragments that comprise the novel involve evaluations of social, political, and philosophical values, particularly those most enshrined in traditional literature, such as the glorification of conquest and the faith that the world is—must be— hierarchically ordered with earth and body on the bottom and mind and spirit on the top. This is important not only because new meanings must generate new forms—when we have a new form in art we can assume we have a new meaning—but because the verbal strategies Maso uses draw attention to the discrepancies between traditional concepts and the conscious mental and emotional activity of re-vision. In the "Joie de Vivre Room" where Ava Klein has lived much of her life and that she now must leave, it would be possible to only see the loss that has/is taking place, but through the lush images of the text we know that Maso believes the future involves continual transformation without complete reparation. Insofar as the subject of AVA is representative of Ava's "I," the divided voices evoke divided selves: the rational and the passionate, the active and the suffering, the conscious life and the dream life. In many ways too, Ava seems to challenge the validity of the "I," of any "I." She wants readers to examine the role of the individual in the horror of our century, but she does not want us to assume, by any means, that this story (or any story) is solely about any one of us. We are not the victims in AVA, nor is Ava Klein. Instead, we are the ones who must listen.

Notes 1 I am grateful here to Mary Ruefle and her lecture, "Our First and Last Conversation" (June 29, 2000. Vermont College. Montepelier, Vermont), which encapsulated my unspoken thoughts about AVA, even though she never once discussed Maso's work, and asked me to consider issues of poetry relevant to the way the text is structured. As well, the quotation that follows is also Ruefle's.

Berlin 16 2 Here Ruefle paraphrases and refers to something Ernest Fennelosa said to Ezra Pound: "some languages are so constructed, English among them, that we each only speak one sentence in our lifetime." 3 The death camp where Ava's entire family (except her father and mother) perished. 4 Here I believe Maso is paraphrasing from Hélène Cixous, Le Livre de Promethea: "This whole book is composed of first pages. For the author that is serious. Sometimes, also, it is troublesome and painful. It gives me a headache: I would like Promethea to pick a page to be first, the way one picks up a shell on the beach" (15). 5 The references to Borges in AVA are powerful yet subtle: Borges in a hot-air balloon. Jorge Luis Borges, with his sand clock, watch, map, telescope, scale. Borges dreams columns of numbers in chalk. The writing starts in the left-hand margin in the strict alphabetical order of encyclopedic dictionaries. After each word is affixed to the precise number of times you will see, hear, remember or live it during the course of your life. The dreaming blind poet in Reykjavík touching columns of chalk. The cylinder, the cube, the sphere, the pyramid. You will use up the number of times assigned to you to articulate this or that hexameter and you will go on living. You will use up the number of times your heart has been assigned a heartbeat and then you will have died. The child Borges and his father comparing encyclopedic tigers with real ones. As I write these lines, perhaps even as you read them, Robert Graves, beyond time and free of its dates and numbers is dying in Mallorca. The dreaming blind poet speaks: Taken from pages 138-42. The longer passages are quoted from Borges's own Atlas. I believe that an understanding of what Borges intended "Text" to mean and to be is essential to the knowledge necessary to read AVA, both as a traditional novel and as a poetic work. 6 In one of my many readings of AVA, I explored the novel in the reverse order—from what we would call the end to what we would call the novel's start. The whole, for me, was not really changed. There is meaning here. Maso creates a work in which the parts

Berlin 17 are more necessary than the whole. Each fragment is whole, complete in itself, and yet utterly dependent, not necessarily on the words which surround but on the reader's ability to call up the memory of the existence of other words. 7 Federico García Lorca was dragged from a friend's house and executed by a Fascist squad on August 19, 1936. He was thirty-eight years old. His murder foreshadowed, to the whole of the Western literary/artistic community, the mindless destruction of humanity that would follow in the years during World War II. 8 Though AVA is a book full of regrets as Maso has stated (see her introduction in Conjunctions), they are not regrets of things done but things not done. 9 I have taken the liberty of excerpting the passages that only refer to Jean-Luc, a drunk stranger who interrupted a dinner party and with whom both Ava and Aldo fell in love briefly. 10 Refers to Wittig's The Lesbian Body. 11 Some of Ava's loves included Francesco who was from Rome, Anatole from France, Carlos from Granada, Jean-Luc from France, Franz from Germany, and Danilo from the Czech Republic. 12 One of AVA's best examples of the tentative act of translation follows: "It is difficult to convey in English the exact meaning of the word Wandern. Perhaps 'to roam' comes nearest to a definition of that half-joyous, half-melancholy notion. Wandern serves both as a symbol of freedom, of not being weighted down by responsibilities, and as a symbol of not belonging, of homelessness" (98). 13 Here Maso quotes Cixous, "The Laugh of the Medusa." 14 Quoted from "An Exchange with Hélène Cixous" in Conley's Hélène Cixous: Writing the Feminine (146). Maso writes in Conjunctions, "When I read this line by Hélène Cixous, I knew she was articulating what I was wordlessly searching for when I began to combine my fragments. . . . And yes, isn't it possible that language instead of limiting possibility might actually enlarge it? That through its suggestiveness the gorgeousness of its surface, its resonant, unexplored depths, it might actually open up the world a little, and possibly something within ourselves as well?" (174-75). 15 From Maso's "Traveling Light" in The Bay of Angels (130). The Bay of Angels is forthcoming from Maso, part of the trilogy that AVA began and in which Ava Klein is a character. Maso has said AVA is the only text she has continued to write and rewrite, even after its publication. 16 Erik Satie was born 1866 and died in Paris in 1925. It has been said that in his oneroom apartment Satie owned two pianos, one placed on top of the other and their pedals interconnected. In the same small flat he had a collection of umbrellas. Satie once bought

Berlin 18 twelve gray velvet suits. He would wear one suit until it wore out at which point he would put on another. When he died six suits and one hundred umbrellas were found in his apartment. Most relevant to AVA is Satie's "Vexations," a 180 note long piano composition which was directed to be repeated 840 times. In 1963, in New York, it took a relay team of ten pianists over eighteen hours to perform this work which was recorded for the only time. It is the longest musical composition ever written and yet is only 180 notes. 17 Fox, Border Crossings (57). Fox here is discussing the East German author, Christa Wolf and her epic novel Patterns of Childhood. Wolf's collected works are responsible for my own interest in the work of witness. The rest of Fox's analogy establishes Wolf's linguistic mirroring of Adolf Eichmann "who spoke in slogans until the very end, even about his own death: a master and a victim of the lethal use of language which brings yearned-for absolute political equality to some and annihilation to others—annihilation at the hands of persons who are permitted to commit murder without remorse by a language stripped of a conscience" (Wolf 237). Patterns of Childhood is one of the first books written by a German about this coming to terms with the Nazi past of Germany and is one of the most crucial novels of Witness written. The connection here between Maso and Wolf is clear: Maso is a witness of the witness, telling the story for Wolf and what she could not have said. Wolf offers a first hand testimony of a child who was very clearly a child during Hitler's reign but who in 1971, as an adult, must confront the effects of the Nazi regime on the development of self and the shaping of memory—who must find a way to understand her guilt and her fears. Patterns of Childhood attempts to piece together the terrifying history of the German people while helping to explain whether everything in history repeats itself (Wolf 64). Wolf and Maso share another commonality: the fear of becoming victims. Wolf writes: "The final solution. You've forgotten when you first heard those words. When you gave them their proper meaning; it must have been years after the war. But way after that—to this day—every tall, thickly smoking smokestack forces you to think 'Auschwitz.' The name cast a shadow which grew and grew. To this day, you can't bring yourself to stand in this shadow, because your otherwise lively imagination balks at the suggestion that you might take on the role of the victims" (Wolf 233) and Maso writes: "I was never much interested in American fascists or Italian fascists, the Austrians, the Nazis or the neo-Nazis, or the skinheads, like so many of my Jewish friends. I was not particularly interested in the Aryan sons of the people who killed people whose names I know. I never wanted to embrace that evil or some idea of it. I have never felt bad about surviving. I have never been to Auschwitz, never been to Treblinka. No all along" (57-8). And yet both Ava and Wolf's narrator find themselves back at the camps, again and again. 18 The quote is from page 70. Ava's childlessness is referred to on page 81 of AVA: "We lost the baby, Anatole"‹Ava's one pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Ava calls herself a "Wandering Jew" also on page 81. Ava's Jewish heritage is necessary as Maso points out (see Cooley Interview). This detail about Ava seems to hint at something Muriel Rukeyser wrote in her long poem entitled "Letter to the Front": "To be a Jew in the

Berlin 19 twentieth century/Is to be offered a gift. If you refuse,/Wishing to be invisible, you choose/Death of the spirit, the stone insanity./ Accepting, take full life. Full agonies:/Your evening deep in labyrinthine blood/Of those you resist, fail, and resist; and God/Reduced to a hostage among hostages./The Gift is torment. Not alone the still/Torture, isolation; or torture of the flesh./That may come also. But the accepting wish,/The whole and fertile spirit is guarantee/For every human freedom, suffering to be free,/Daring to live for the impossible" (65). 19 In "Sources," Maso cites George Steiner's Real Presences. 20 "When I awake I know it's Danilo Kis I've slept with" (115). Even Ava, herself, has some confusion over who her last lover is: the text is filled with numerous references to the relationship between Danilo, her lover, and Danilo Kis, the Eastern-European Author.

Works Cited Cixous, Hélène. "The Laugh of the Medusa." Trans. Keith and Paula Cohen. Signs I (1976): 875-99. —-. Le Livre de Promethea. Trans. Betsy Wing. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1991. Conley, Verena Andermatt. Hélène Cixous: Writing the Feminine. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1991. Cooley, Nicole. "Carole Maso: An Interview." American Poetry Review 24.2 (1995): 3235. Dorsey, Michael. "More Seductive to a Writer." American Book Review 16.3 (1994): 17, 28-29. Fox, Thomas. Border Crossings: An Introduction to East German Prose. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1993. Harris, Victoria Frankel. "Carole Maso: An Introduction and Interpellated Interview." Review of Contemporary Fiction 17.3 (1997): 105-11. Maso, Carole. Aureole. Hopewell, 1996. —-. AVA. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1993. —-. "From AVA." Conjunctions 20.1 (1993): 172-76. —-. "Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose: A Lifelong Conversation with Myself Entered Midway." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 21-54. —-. "Traveling Light, from The Bay of Angels." Review of Contemporary Fiction 17.3 (1997): 128-43.

Berlin 20 Rukeyser, Muriel. "Letter to the Front." Out of Silence. Ed. Kate Daniels. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1992. 61-68. Smith, Wendy. "As She Lay Dying." New York Times 12 December 1993: 23. Wittig, Monique. The Lesbian Body. Boston: Beacon, 1973. Wolf, Christa. Patterns of Childhood. Trans. Ursule Molinaro and Hedwig Rappolt. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1984.

Cooley 1 Textual Bodies: Carole Maso's AVA and the Poetics of OVER-REACHING Nicole Cooley

In a recent essay about her writing practices, Carole Maso quotes Gertrude Stein: "It can easily be remembered that a novel is everything." Yet Maso takes Stein's assertion one step farther when she next addresses the reader, saying, "Accuse me again, if you like, of over-reaching" ("Notes of a Lyric Artist" 24). What is "over-reaching"? Who might "accuse" her? And, finally, what is out of reach and why? Both statements reveal central elements of Maso's narrative poetics. If, for Maso, a novel is "everything" and writing is "over-reaching," her narratives are premised on a transgression of boundaries and an inclusion of the marginal. More than any of Maso's other works, AVA (1993), her fourth novel, is a text about over-reaching, a novel that is everything. In fact, inclusion is a premise of this novel's form: the book is structured by the thoughts that run through the central figure's mind, by a matrix of her references and quotations. The citations are wide-ranging: Maso includes texts by Samuel Beckett, Hélène Cixous, and Anaïs Nin as well as film transcripts and artists' statements. A multiplicity of voices forms the network of this text narrated by Ava Klein, former professor of comparative literature. In her list of "Sources" concluding AVA, Maso notes that these sources "include among the many private voices and versions of herself, those voices that arise from her 'passionate and promiscuous reading' of the texts of the world" (269). First and foremost, AVA is a text about writing and reading, and, thus, more strongly than any of her other narratives, AVA proposes Maso's poetics of the novel. In Ghost Dance (1986), Maso's first novel, the narrative centers on the narrator's mother, who is a poet. In The Art Lover (1990) and The American Woman in the Chinese Hat (1993), the woman writer functions as each book's narrator. In AVA Maso positions the woman reader as her central character. However, Ava Klein is not simply reading and referencing texts because she is a literature professor; she is reading to save her own life. Ava is dying of a rare blood disease, and the novel relates the events on the last day of her life. Ava's body and its breakdown structure the narrative, which Ava herself calls "a farewell to the body" (208). In her essay "Precious, Disappearing Things: On AVA," Maso asserts, "I cannot keep the body out of my writing; it enters the language, transforms the page, imposes its own intelligence" (70). Maso explicitly connects the physical body and the textual body; the former becomes a figure for her writing practice. Yet Maso's narrative is formed and reformed by the social and material world, and this is the underlying assumption of Maso's writing of the body: the twentieth-century body is always socially inscribed, marked by violence. Thus it is significant that Ava speaks of the Holocaust, in which members of her family both died and survived, that the Persian Gulf War begins during the course of the narrative, and, finally, that her body is literally being invaded by medical interventions as she undergoes cancer treatment. In this essay I read AVA in terms of the interplay of the body, social reality, and technology by looking

Cooley 2 closely at the reader/writer relationship. The first section discusses the role the body and its breakdown play in this narrative and how Maso thematizes Ava's illness and eventual death through an awareness of both the limits and possibilities of language. The second section focuses on two central aspects of Maso's poetics of the novel in AVA: first, her relinquishing of authority and control in the text to make a space for the reader, and, second, her invocation of other forms and genres to challenge narrative codes and her wish for fiction's "democracy."

The Body in Pain The ways in which the body transforms writing are certainly important for all of Maso's books, especially her most recent works. In the preface to Aureole (1996), for example, Maso writes, "Line by line I have tried to slip closer to a language that might function more bodily, more physically, more passionately" (ix). Throughout her work, Maso seeks new textual structures to contain her experiments, continually pushing the boundaries and questioning the definitions of what fiction might be. In AVA, however, this challenge to traditional formulations of narrative enacted through the body is most compelling and complex because the novel follows Ava's dying. Nowhere do questions about the relation between the textual body, the writer, the reader, and the world become more engaging than in this book. To emphasize the passing of time on the last day of Ava's life, AVA is structured into three parts: "Morning," "Afternoon," and "Evening." "Morning" introduces Ava and her illness. The first hint that Ava is gravely ill is given early in this section and, significantly, Maso formulates the illness as an interruption in the lush language of the text that constitutes Ava's reverie: Night jasmine. Already? On this slowly moving couchette. Not yet. Tell me everything that you want. Wake up, Ava Klein. Turn over on your side. Your right arm, please. Tell me everything you'd like me to—your hand there, slowly. (4) An erotic writing of the female body ("Tell me everything that you want" and "Tell me everything you'd like me to—your hand there, slowly") is, literally, interrupted by the voice of a clinician giving the patient different directions ("Wake up, Ava Klein. Turn over on your side. Your right arm, please"). These directions, given by an unnamed member of Ava's medical team, are frequently repeated throughout this first section. Many times, Ava's body is commanded; she is told to turn over, to open her mouth. With

Cooley 3 each order, Ava seems to further relinquish her position as subject and to become the object on which medicine can inscribe its interventions, always through the use of her first and last name ("Ava Klein"). Maso creates a tension between medicine's desire to make Ava an object and Ava's own desire to retain her status as a speaking subject by continually positioning the language of pleasure and the language of pain side by side. Ava speaks of "the daily betrayals of my body that . . . are taking place. This perfect traitor that has afforded me so much pleasure, which has served me well" (54). Over and over, Ava recalls the pleasure her body has given just as pain overtakes her. While Maso exposes the tensions and contradictions between these two treatments of the body, she also suggests equivalencies between the language of pleasure and pain. As the narrative proceeds through "Morning," Ava remembers, early on in her cancer treatments, losing her hair: "Shiny hair on the pillow next to me: it was mine and not mine. Detached from my head. Beautiful wavy hair" (61). Maso's image reflects another crucial opposition: the simultaneous sense of body ownership and estrangement experienced by the very ill. Similarly, near the start of "Afternoon," Ava remarks, "It is and is not my body" (128). How to reconcile this contradiction about possession and dispossession of the body becomes, increasingly, the focus of Maso's narrative. Toward the end of the novel, Ava approaches eventual and complete bodily estrangement. In "Evening," the novel's last section, she compares her body to "an unfamiliar coast, a foreign coast" (251). With this image, the body is a site from which to launch the self, a point of departure, and a place that is becoming deeply "unfamiliar." In her essay "Emancipating the Proclamation: Gender and Genre in AVA," Victoria Frenkel Harris observes, "Ava's celebrated 'interior multiplicity' . . . is traversed by a medical profession that perceives the human body as self-contained" (176). Harris also points out that Ava's voice would seem to contradict that containment. Thus, despite the fact that the doctors try to contain and limit her body, Ava nevertheless employs a metaphor of freedom and openness to understand it herself. Significantly, Maso enacts the breakdown of her physical body through a breakdown of the narrative, thematizing bodily loss through textual strategies. Throughout the novel, language constitutes reality, yet at the same time language is also capable of destroying it: I was on my way to Germany finally to When the result of the extremely rare Do not worry The considerable irony of this has not been lost Treblinka, a rather musical word.

Cooley 4 Are you positive? Yes, I am extremely positive, Aldo said. In fact, I've got the first signs—forgetfulness, night sweats. (99) In this passage, broken sentences and fragments are deployed to evoke gradual bodily disintegration. Blood here has multivalent meanings. Ava's friend, Aldo, dying of AIDS, suggests a double meaning of positive—to be positive is to be sure, confident, yet, as well, to be carrying antibodies signifying a deadly disease. Ava's own fatal blood disease is aligned with Aldo's, blood linked intimately with blood. In addition, a reference to the Nazi concentration camp Treblinka, where Ava's father, a survivor, was interred, interrupts Ava's meditation on her disease. This reference suggests a connection between collective, mass destruction and individual suffering. Ava points out the "irony" of being en route to Germany when she is diagnosed with cancer, underscoring again the way the violences of the twentieth century, from epidemics to world wars, exist not separately but rather on a continuum of bodily suffering. Repeatedly, Maso reveals connections between war's destruction and Western medicine's cures that poison the body to make it well. (Maso even names Ava's oncologist "Dr. Oppenheim," echoing Oppenheimer, inventor of the atomic bomb.) The Holocaust, AIDS, and the Gulf War therefore become specific and terrible markers of history on the body of the text and the text of the body. As AVA proceeds, the body of the text and the text of the body move closer to one another as Ava draws nearer to death. The link becomes more inextricable, and, finally, the two conjoin. At the end of "Afternoon," Ava states: I'm feeling the form—finally. A more spacious form. After all this time. Breathe. (212) While Ava wants to claim agency, to make her body a site of resistance, she weakens, her health fails, and, ultimately, her body betrays her. But as her death approaches, the narrative acknowledges its own structural transformations, as body and narrative "form" increasingly enact one another. Ultimately, Maso's textual body rather than Ava's physical body will become the site of true resistance.

Against Mastery, Toward the Democracy of Literature Midway through the novel, Ava Klein observes that "Iraq invades Kuwait. The president draws a line in the sand today" (189). This invasion, division, and the bombing of Iraq by the United States is integral both to AVA's narrative, haunting the text, and to Maso's actual writing of the book. In her essay about AVA, Maso describes working on the novel during the Persian Gulf War in January 1991: I do not think I am overstating it when I say that mainstream fiction has become death with its complacent, unequivocal truths, its reductive assignment of

Cooley 5 meaning, its manipulations, its predictability and stasis. As I was watching the war it became increasingly clear to me that this fiction had become a kind of totalitarianism, with its tyrannical plot lines, its linear chronology, and characterizations that left no place in the text for the reader, no space in which to think one's thoughts, no place to live. All the reader's freedoms in effect are usurped. ("Precious, Disappearing Things" 67) Maso's challenge to "mainstream fiction" refutes a vision of writing as a totalizing gesture, an act of domination. Such an "objectifying," mastering authorial stance is not only suspect but actually dangerous. In his essay "The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism," Craig Owens contends that "the modern age was not only the age of the master narrative, it was also the age of representation. . . . For what is representation if not a 'laying hold and grasping' (appropriation), a 'making-stand-overagainst, an objectifying that goes forward and masters'?" (66). For Maso, war is deeply implicated in such an "objectifying that goes forward and masters." Defined by objectifying representation, the Persian Gulf War existed only as representation on our television screens for most of us in the United States. The war on television was many steps removed from violence's reality. Ironically, the Gulf War, itself a system of technologically generated violence, was only available to us through technology's mediation, by way of the television camera. If the war is premised on technological control, Maso's narrative poetics seek to dismantle such ideas about mastery and domination. Significantly, Maso describes her ideas about alternative fiction primarily in terms of the reader's relationship to it. This relation is not based on control of the text but rather on its release, on the reader having the chance to dream and think "one's thoughts" outside of the text s/he is reading. She further explains, "In AVA I have tried to write lines the reader (and the writer) might meditate on, recombine, rewrite as he or she pleases" ("Precious, Disappearing Things" 67-68). The place for the reader in Maso's work is therefore a space of between-ness; the text's interstices are a site diametrically opposed to totalitarianism and war. Thus Maso does not simply reject the notion of the writer's "master narratives," a now infamous rejection within postmodern fiction, but rather she works to subvert the reader's mastery of narrative. Crucially, in AVA the displacement of the force of the text onto the reader is not just a theoretical gesture. As a former comparative literature professor, Ava Klein is, literally, a professional reader of other texts. Ava's role as a reader defines AVA's formal structure. Rather than being composed of paragraphs, the narrative consists of words, phrases, and sentences positioned beside one another with intervals of white space standing between each syntactical unit. Meanings result from the juxtapositions and intervals between pieces of text: What is wrong with you, Ava Klein? The effects of chemotherapy in the childbearing years.

Cooley 6 My uncle wore a pink triangle through the gray of Treblinka—a rather musical word. How have I ended up back here, again? The only industrialized country in the world, besides South Africa, without health care. (35) Multiple images and linguistic registers are placed not sequentially but side by side: questions, sentence fragments, phrases, and a political statement about health care exist on the same plane. Maso shows the associations between poisonous cancer treatment, a Nazi death camp, Nazi marking of gays and lesbians, and the United States' lack of universal health coverage. Juxtaposition makes all of these lines simultaneous, and the sense of everything happening at once enforces the fact that Maso's novel takes place during the course of a single day. Thus textual positioning reveals all three to be not just coterminous but also connected. In all cases, Maso implies, violence is repeatedly inscribed on the body. If the body can be controlled and dominated by technology, Maso's imaginative recreations of the body must necessarily unravel the nexus of assumptions surrounding the mastery of the body and show the inherent danger in such mastery. While it depicts the body in pain, under social control, AVA also reveals a range of potential freedoms of language and narrative form. This freedom is evident in the following passage where the narrative announces its reading strategy: It's only a moment of course. A matter of moments. This life. As short as one of these sentences. As brief as that. But with a certain quiet beauty. As seemingly random as it all appears—there are accumulated meanings. I believe that. (129) "Meanings" in AVA accrue within a series of "moments." The comparison of "this life" with "one of these sentences" underscores a vision of "life" as a textual construction, arranged and positioned. AVA privileges "the interval," what Maso calls the "spaces between words. Between thoughts" (171). Between-ness defines Maso's writing practice: the text hovers between lyric and narrative as juxtaposition creates textual meaning. In addition, by presenting language as performative, constitutive rather than constituted, AVA offers a conception of language markedly different from the view offered by "mainstream" fiction as she critiqued it earlier, in which "sentences" function as a totalizing vehicle of communication to describe "life" and "truth." A central feature of Maso's challenge to traditional fiction's discourses of mastery and totality is AVA's reliance on structures and genres not drawn from the tradition of literary

Cooley 7 narrative. By challenging genre, Maso emphasizes language's power to construct rather than mirror reality. In "Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose: A Lifelong Conversation with Myself Entered Midway," she speaks of the "desire of the novel to be a poem" (23), and wonders how to "reconcile poetic forms with the narrative requirements of an extended prose work?" (31). This is an important question in AVA because poetry is one of the forms Maso deploys to critique the established codes of traditional fiction. With her invocation of poetic modes, Maso emphasizes the spaces and intervals between images, as is made clear in this passage which takes a quote from the poet Frederico García Lorca as a point of departure: Olives hang like earrings in August, in Italy. In France. In Greece. Green, how much I want you green. Gray-green, blue-green, emerald. Green, how much I want you. Roman hills. Francesco, how very much I want you now. (82) Lorca's phrase, "Green, how much I want you, green," an expression of sensual desire, is interpolated with Ava's erotic wish for Francesco. Through her use of repetition, Maso again insists on simultaneity and suggests a series of equivalencies: she conjoins Lorca's voice with her own, and she links a love for the colors and things of the physical world with sexual love. Thus she creates a continuum of the sensual and sexual longings and bodily pleasures. In addition, when she borrows repetition, play with sound and syntax, and lineation from poetic discourse, Maso blurs distinctions between fiction and poetry in ways that ask the reader to rethink the limits and boundaries of fiction. Another crucial form Maso deploys in AVA is film. Maso frequently makes reference to films and filmmakers. Francesco, one of Ava's husbands, is himself a filmmaker. His film, often referenced in the novel, is titled The War Requiem, a name that resonates with this text's central focus on war. These references notwithstanding, however, it is nevertheless most useful to look at the ways in which cinema offers a way to understand Maso's writing practices. Visual discourses are central to this text, and cinema offers Maso a range of formal practices with which to challenge the traditional definitions of fiction she feels are so deeply inadequate. Specifically, Maso plays with ideas of montage and cutting in AVA. Within the montage structure of film, "meaning" is produced by the encounter of two images, by the moment of emptiness between shots. In AVA the interval of white space between lines and images functions like a cut between moments of a film. Maso quotes Rosemarie Waldrop on Edmund Jabes, saying "Shifting voices and constant breaks of mode let silence have its share and allow for a fuller meditative field than is possible in linear narrative or analysis" (184). "Shifting voices" and "breaks" are both

Cooley 8 central tropes of AVA's poetics. They are figures for the gaps and chasms that comprise this narration, the interstices where something appears to be missing and the reader must fill the interval of silence. Furthermore, Maso uses film to question a series of binary oppositions drawn from traditional fiction, particularly, image/narrative and form/content: When the woman disappears, you already know that her lover and her best friend will end up together, you see it coming from a mile away, and of course, in the end he will be no good, but because of the gorgeous, the startling shots, you forget for a moment the melodrama of the plot. The quintessential Italian male at the center. What's wrong with this film? (72) The last question is absolutely central. "What's wrong" here is very much like the flaws Maso points out in "mainstream" fiction: the plot is expected, the character roles rigidly codified. But, as Ava also notes here, the viewer is still carried away by the "gorgeous, the startling shots." These images, film's vocabulary, enthrall and transport us, as the "shot" takes precedence over the "plot." It is in fact this interplay between the shot and the plot that we see constantly at work in AVA. Maso then extends her challenge to this opposition to discuss the larger question of the relation of form to content. Later in the narrative Ava recalls filmmaker Su Friedrich saying, "The challenge comes in trying to push film beyond its usual narrative capacities—so that the form takes as many risks as the content" (227). Friedrich's statement echoes and underscores Maso's poetics of the novel, with its focus on transgression, inclusion and "risk" through form. Thus film is deeply implicated in Maso's desire to define a new novel that supercedes conventional narrative boundaries. Implicit in this new definition of narrative is the notion that the novel is not simply a long work of fiction. The novel of "over-reaching," for Maso, includes a number of forms and genres, such as poetry and film, and may exist most fully between genres, on the boundaries between many modes of representation. In AVA, ultimately, the body cannot be contained by the text unless "mainstream" definitions of narrative undergo profound transformations. Maso thus demands new textual forms for her experiment. Her use of intertextual reference further broadens the wide range of codes and genres employed in this book. AVA concludes with a coda titled "Sources," in which Maso documents, noting the pages on which they first appear, the various intertextual references in AVA. "Sources" opens with the following passage: What floods the mind of my Ava Klein on her final day include among the many private voices and versions of herself, those voices that arise from her "passionate and promiscuous reading" of the texts of the world. I have attempted as much as possible to attribute the sources of this "irresistible music." When a source is self-evident, I have not cited additional and complicating information here. My hope is that these

Cooley 9 notes, at some point, will enhance the reader's pleasure but in no way interrupt the trance of the text. (269) Maso, author of AVA, appears to be telling the reader how to read the novel, but she is also undermining and exposing her own authority. The author "attempts" to attribute the sources and hesitates to include sources in cases in which they might override the text. Thus text is privileged over author. In contrast to conceptions of the author as a transcendent godlike figure, the writer privileges both text and reader and allows the text to speak through her. The text is a "trance," a visionary state for the reader. Such a view of reader, writer, and text transforms the novel's reading and writing positions. Maso's "Sources" suggest a reader in accordance with Roland Barthes's definition of the reader as "simply that someone who holds together in a single field all the traces by which the written text is constructed." For Barthes, writing is no longer "an operation of recording" but rather "a performative" ("The Death of the Author" 145-46). Within Maso's performative writing, Ava Klein is defined by the speakers she invokes. Her subjectivity is at every moment mediated through language. The citations of other texts function as voices who are part of Ava's voice, producing a speaking subject that is multiple rather than unitary, mobile rather than fixed. And, finally, the other voices that define Ava have important resonances beyond a reading of Maso's use of intertextuality. In my interview with her, Maso offers the following statement about her narrative poetics and her politics: I feel that the democracy of literature is important, the idea that we're all related, that ownership isn't something so important, that Virginia Woolf can exist next to Beckett next to me next to Sappho next to Paul Celan. All these disparate things can come together in a whole. It's part of what I was thinking about as I wrote that book [AVA], about totalitarianism and tyranny and peace. Making peace with one's influences was important to me. Embracing sources. Imagining a world, on the last day of this woman's life, in which almost everything can co-exist, seemed to me important. (34) In this passage, "democracy," a term commonly used to describe the body politic, becomes a mode of talking about the textual body. Democracy arises from the positioning of language and the speech of multiple voices. Thus Maso suggests possible equivalencies among the textual body, the personal body, the collective body, and the body politic. Textual positioning therefore has political effects. This passage has broader relevance for Maso's narrative poetics and politics: according to Maso's formulation of narrative poetics, the text offers a democratic invitation to the reader. Such an invitation runs counter to traditional fiction's discourses of mastery and domination. The text that "embraces" everything, the narrative that refuses to be reduced to a single meaning, is Maso's novel. It is AVA. It is a text challenging the notion of authorial mastery and opening a space of freedom for the reader. When Maso addresses the reader, saying, "Accuse me, if you like, of over-reaching," in the statement I cited at the beginning of this essay, she indicates that she senses the reader's potential "accusation"

Cooley 10 and that she knows her work exceeds fiction's limits in ways that may unsettle us. Yet only the novel of "over-reaching" can offer the space for Maso's project in AVA. Only the novel of "over-reaching" can help the reader to re-imagine the text and the world.

Notes 1 I wish to thank Monica Berlin for her valuable insights about this essay. For his many careful readings of my work on Maso, I am very grateful to Alex Hinton. And, finally, Pamela Barnett's comments about Maso's project helped me to rethink my argument in crucial ways. 2 Two other implicit formal challenges are raised by this essay and by the context in which it first appeared. First, Maso invokes Stein within an "essay" which subverts our expectations about the form's discursive logic. It resembles a poem, composed of isolated phrases, sentences and short paragraphs spoken by multiple voices, drawn from multiple texts. In addition, "Carole Maso: A Supplement" (this essay, an excerpt from Maso's novel Defiance, and an interview I conducted with her) first appeared in The American Poetry Review. The publication of Maso's fiction and essays within a poetry magazine further unsettles the conventional divisions between genres. 3 I place The American Woman in the Chinese Hat chronologically before AVA because although The American Woman was published after AVA, it was written before it. 4 For a sustained examination of physical pain and its relationship with language, see Elaine Scarry. 5 Elsewhere in the same essay, Maso describes childhood reading experiences which foreshadow both her current beliefs about writing and reading and her textual practices: "I would wander year after year in and out of our bedtime reading room, dissatisfied by the stories, the silly plot contrivances, the reduction of an awesome complicated world into a rather silly, sterile one. . . . I would wander out to the night garden taking one sentence or one scene out there with me to dream over, stopping I guess the incessant march of the plot forward to the inevitable climax" ("Precious Disappearing Things: On AVA" 69). The image of the reader "wandering" outside with one sentence to "dream over" is only possible within a revolutionary notion of fiction, narrative and the novel and even describes reading as an act of over-reaching. 6 Maso has also recently begun to explore the ways in which other media and digital technologies, particularly, the Internet, ask us to reconsider and reformulate texts and the role of the reader. See Maso's essay "Rupture, Verge, and Precipice, Precipice, Verge and Hurt Not," in her recent collection of essays, Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire, in which she considers electronic as opposed to print writing.

Cooley 11 Works Cited Barthes, Roland. "The Death of the Author." Image-Music-Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill & Wang, 1977. Cooley, Nicole. "Carole Maso: An Interview." The American Poetry Review 24.2 (1995): 32-35. Harris, Victoria Frenkel. "Emancipating the Proclamation: Gender and Genre in AVA." Review of Contemporary Fiction 17.3 (1997): 175-85. Maso, Carole. Aureole. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1996. ______. AVA. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1993. ______. "Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose: A Lifelong Conversation with Myself Entered Midway." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 21-54 ______. "Precious, Disappearing Things: On AVA." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 64-71 Owens, Craig. "The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism." The AntiAesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Ed. Hal Foster. Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1983. 57-82 Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York: Oxford UP, 1985.

Getsi 1 The Desire of Song to Be an Ear: AVA and the Reformation of Genre Lucia Cordell Getsi "Like the clarinet with the flute, like the French horn with the oboe, like the violin and the piano--take the melody from me, when it's time" ("Rupture, Verge, and Precipice" 190).

This quotation from Carole Maso's Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing and Moments of Desire, an autumn 2000 collection of essays and theoretical writings several of which were first published in other versions and in other venues over the past several years, engages the forms of Carole's thought process, her conception of writing. Though it does not appear in AVA, it is quintessentially AVArian; it could have been one of the dying Ava Klein's thoughts. I conceptualize the sentence as a model of how that novel works and does its work in the reader, as a model for the poetics of AVA's form, the poetry of its form. In Break Every Rule, the sentence appears out of nowhere, unattached, at the end of the final essay, "Rupture, Verge, and Precipice Precipice, Verge and Hurt Not," right after the dedication and apparent end of that essay which coincides with the bottom of the page. This unattached sentence floats at the top of the penultimate page of the book, right above the date and place name that introduce the final two pages. On these final pages is found a piece of personal writing about personal matters that loop among many "verges": the seasonal pitch into spring, Carole's decision between positions at Columbia or Brown University, and the borders of thinking about ongoing writing projects including the essay the reader has just finished; the author is, in these final two pages and their final paragraph, poised, "on the verge," of a new season, a new job, a new essay that will be "Something for the sake of my own work, my own life I need to do," an "attempt, the first movement toward some sort of reconciliation" with and for "everything that's been kept out," of literature "past and present" (191). "Everything that's been kept out": as the sentence sandwiched between these two pieces of writing would have been kept out, by most other writers and even by Carole herself in her novels composed before AVA. But Carole put it in—not as a bridge between the two (it doesn't bridge them or even have much to do with them, nor is it written in the same voice), not as anything other than itself, the sentence, which simply floats, hovers there in its own made space, which bodies forth, which voices, a complete conceptual world in the way poems do, flexes its space in the way poems do. And having read AVA, reading this sentence pulls up and into the sentence the resonances of that whole novel. It is inscribed with the form of that novel. What does that mean, to be inscribed with the form, so that when I read the sentence, I read it as no mere sentence, but like a poem, as spinning out its own world, as planetary? So that, as planet, it pulls into itself all the other "planetary" sentences and phrases, floating in their poetic white space, embryonic conceptions pulsing in the albumen of the

Getsi 2 pages of AVA? For there is something both gravitational and gestational in the way the phrases and lines of the novel--repeating in bits, repeating in wholes or parts, not repeating sometimes--go about their work, in the ways they communicate, which is not the way novels, even other experimental novels, even lyric novels, communicate. There is an entire lineage of linguists and rhetoricians profoundly influenced by the German critical and idealist philosophers and poets who began to believe that world was mind, purely noumenal. Benjamin Lee Whorf proposed that we cannot think outside language, outside what we can express in language, and that form (of language, of the system of thought it carries in syntax and grammar) is the only communicable thing. Actually, part of me rather agrees with Whorf, though when I try his propositions out on students, they have always been dismayed. They say, "I know what I think, but I just can't say it." I answer: "you when 'll know think said you it 've what you." And when they cast those apparently random words into the form of a sentence, they understand something about the forms of cognition embedded in grammar and syntax. What is needed to understand Carole's sentence above? Just for fun, I tried the sentence out in one of my classes. I had only one person who had ever really listened to music intently enough to apprehend its formal properties, apparently, because she was the only one who could comprehend the sentence. I asked her to trace the process of her understanding. Her process was the process we use in understanding any metaphor, only in this sentence the full domains of each side of the comparison introduced by the word "Like" are not here, so the process is intriguingly complex; yet the metaphor is either grasped, or not, in a flash of something like the joy we have at "getting" a good joke or suddenly coming upon a solution to a problem. One familiar with the musical forms of the symphony or jazz instantly imports the understanding of those forms into the understanding of the musical domain of this comparison--how a clarinet will duet with the dominant flute that is playing the melody and then take the melody away, or the violin will take the melody from the piano. (I am thinking of Saint-Saëns's amazing Sonata No. 1 in D minor for violin and piano that Proust in A la recerche du temps perdu used as a prototype for his imaginary composer Vinteuil's "little phrase" that keeps re-petitioning through the duet of the two instruments--here a dialogue, a duel, an argument, a love affair, an orgasmic crescendo, a mirroring, a merging.) Then that understanding of the formal properties of music is mapped onto the "me-(you)" domain of the second part of the simile. So the main clause does not mean "take away" in the sense of taking candy from a child, but rather in the dialogical sense of musical form--the form dictates when it will be the you's turn to sing the melody, and the me's turn to be silent. It is the form of metaphor, of simile, that bends the sentence toward this meaning. It subverts the grammatical intention of the sentence. The subject of the sentence is not here (the implied you of "take the melody from me"), and even though grammatically the absent "you" has agency, in this sentence it must share it with, even give it up to, the objective-case "me" who is (subverting the grammatical form) textually "saying" the sentence, textually commanding, telling, asking: "take the melody from me, when it's time." When Cixoux calls for "a language that heals rather than separates" this bending, subverting, of the subject-object formula of the sentence (thought-world) in Western languages is what she meant.

Getsi 3 In this sentence is Carole Maso's whole impetus toward dialogism (evidenced early on in parts of Ghost Dance and much of The Art Lover and in the divided selves, like Raskolnikov's divided self, of The American Woman in the Chinese Hat and Defiance) and also toward polyphony (performed in the choric self that is AVA, the choric voices/selves that sing in round and cycle in Aureole, and who sing in counterpoint and symphonic-choric mass the portions of the unpublished The Bay of Angels that I have read). Her poetic and lyric impulse, which guides the forms of her narratives, is also embedded in this strange little unattached floating sentence-metaphor. This sentence could have ended AVA. Or it could have been epigraphic at the beginning. For anyone who has read AVA, this sentence evokes the dying Ava Klein and the intertextual tapestries of her memories in dialogue and polyphony (a musical term and form, after all) with the moments and thoughts of her last day. The intertextual repetitions make this day of her death, finally, celebratory, a consecration, a bene-diction, a saying of the good of her life and its polyphonic re-sona-ting, re-sonneting, re-sounding of everything and everyone that she has loved, which is everything that has come to her in the forms of serious and hallowed art, poetry, music, film, and the hallowed words of artists about their own and other artists' conceptions, the intelligences and geniuses of beloved people who triggered Ava to enact the self. As Bakhtin wrote, "self is an event." And Carole has said and written many times over, so is the novel, while expressing her contempt for those novels that are about an event rather than enacting an event. Carole has called herself a "lyric" artist and says that she reads more poetry than fiction, but that she needed "a larger canvas" than poetry provided. The metaphoric sentence above is a clue as to why she calls herself a "lyric artist working in prose." By itself, with some attention to lines, the sentence could be a lyric poem. It is over when it is over, complete in itself. But if the artist is not finished, needs a larger canvas, then, what to do? What about all the stuff that is not in it, that it does not, in its self-contained world, allow to exist, the language rhythms still pulsing in the writer, the coffee downstairs, the ringing phone, the finches at the feeder, the thought that I will see you tonight, the SaintSaëns on the radio? When Carole visits me, I sometimes show her a new poem I am working on, and she will shake her head, marveling not so much at the poem but at the differences in composition, and say something like, "It really is a whole different process from the novel, of thought, of duration, of making, isn't it?" And I nod. Narrative, linear fiction, fiction that tells a story of an event, is comforting to write, I think. You know when it is over. You know when you have manipulated the reader into taking your perspective or subverting the perspective the way you wanted it to be subverted. The sentences, their forms, the forms of the language, are not the communication, but rather the coal cars delivering the lump of communication like coal on little tracks from writer to reader (thank you, Jakobson, for the metaphor). The axis of language that these story/event-tellers work with and through is called in linguistics the syntagmatic axis, the linear, horizontal, syntactical, teleologically-formulated axis of language/thought. There has been much experimentation with the comparable formal axis of thought in art, surface. In art over the past century, figure has receded into surface. Look at a de Kooning painting. Look at the early Franz Marc with his large animal figures and compare these to the later geometric designs that fill the surface, the early Picasso as opposed to the cubist Picasso (the formalism of Picasso is repeated as a figure in AVA as

Getsi 4 the child Picasso for whom the number seven was stubbornly an upside-down nose and not a number at all, a figure's figure; Ava similarly encodes the form of the letter A with image--draw a mountain. Now cross it). A similar move toward surface, toward defiguration, toward mathematical repetition and away from the narrative threading of melody, can be heard in the development of modern and postmodern music. In the poetry of some experimental poets as well one can see the influence of this conception. Jorie Graham's poems become more and more syntagmatic in their form. Because it pays more attention to surface innovation and manipulation, the syntagmatic axis of language/thought can subvert its own telelogical drive to closure. It tends, that is, to give itself more surface, more space, and then, naturally, a longer temporal duration. Faulkner has a few three and four page sentences in Absalom, Absalom!; Joyce in Finnegans Wake makes each sentence, phrase, paragraph into a canvas of surface until with each page, one is in a gallery of the self of the composing novelist. In gaining more surface, a larger canvas, in subduing the figure in favor of a close-up of the close-up, of detailing the details (think of a painting of a sailing ship precariously tipping over a huge wave in a storm and then take the camera of your eye in for a close-up of the ocean surface and then frame the close-up as your whole painting), the syntagmatic axis can open itself up to and create a space for almost anything at all if the stuff for which it opens up spaces is a part of or can be made a part of the teleogical drive for closure--but traditionally not what is outside the "novel's time," the precious disappearing things, not the ringing phone, the finches at the feeder, the thought that I will see you tonight, or overhearing my father and friend making pasta in the next room while I am writing a novel. Further, the syntagmatic axis, theoretically, cannot subvert its teleological drive to closure forever. It can just make the canvas/surface more complicated and larger, until meanings become simply another aspect of the surface, the syntax, the discourse in whatever medium the discourse happens to be. This kind of art or literature--that operates primarily upon the syntagmatic axis or surface--reaches closure by simply taking up all the space it has arbitrarily given itself. (The image Borges gave to this aesthetic frame, the center of which is nowhere and the circumference of which is everywhere, is the great circular book of his "Library of Babel.") Before postmodernism, written poetry had never operated primarily along this syntagmatic axis of language (though postmodern markers in poetry have been around for a couple of centuries--some of the German romantics like Friedrich Hölderlin and Karoline von Gunderrode and many of the French symbolists are true precursors of postmodernism). Instead, written poetry distinct from oral forms like the epic that have a strong narrative and syntagmatic component, has operated in its forms, tropes, and conventions, primarily on the paradigmatic language axis, where personally and socially formed connotations and associations, dreams and fears, desire and longing and need have their fierce and uneasy dwelling; in the co-text of the syntax and the word, in all that comes along, unbidden, with discourse and slants its meanings into the subjectivity of the speaker and the subjectivity of the listener. Poetic forms rely on repetition (not redundancy) of image, phrase, sound, all of which in-cant, that is, sing into the intention (the tension inward) dictated not only by the form but also by the swing of the paradigm, the metaphoric centrifuge of the amassing of associations and connotations. Anaphora is

Getsi 5 primary in poetry. However, anaphora means re-petition, not redundancy. Even in a villanelle where lines one and three are exactly repeated three times each in a nineteenline poem, finally merging to close the poem as lines eighteen and nineteen, each repeating line is radically changed into something entirely new by the co-text of each stanzaic triplet in which it appears. If it is not changed and made something new by the new stanzas in which it appears, the villanelle will be a mediocre poem. The focusing and refocusing on the same phrase, the same image, the same sounds (there are only two endrhyming sounds repeated through the nineteen lines), the bringing-in of only what new imagery and information shed light, slant the light, on this one uni-verse, effectively blocks out a lot--the ringing phone, the finches at the feeder. Unless these are the subject of the poem or can be worked into the subject of the poem, they are not there. What is here is the power of teleology perfected, so that the end seems pre-ordained, with a force like destiny. And it is pre-ordained--through the form, which is what is communicating to us as we read, allowing us to build this universe through its blueprint, putting in our own roses, deaths, smells, yearnings, much in the same way a musician can read a musical score on paper and hear the symphony--only this one has personalized notes rather than universal ones. The personalization, the in-turning of discourse into the subjective, is the paradigmatic and is lyric poetry's forté, its specialty. This is language that is the event it is about. These two counterweights, the paradigmatic and the syntagmatic, compose the multivalence of language. Language composed of one and not the other is innately boring: the word-salad of the schizophrenic can expand its surface space and go on forever without the closure of meaning (form), but is only interesting to language researchers and a few psychiatrists. The formulaic stories that most beginning creative writers write, weaned on the genre novel and television, contain nothing that will send the reader into the paradigmatic and the subjective, nothing but clichéd formulas that reassert the same tired characters and plots and endings, nothing but language that is about an event we have seen a thousand times, that makes all events into something seen a thousand times; not language that is an event. The conventions of genre, in poetry and in fiction, are weighted more in one directional force of language--the paradigmatic or the syntagmatic--than the other. Each set of conventions has its limitations: both can be exclusive, but lyric poetry has had to be exclusive because of its compression and its space; lyric poetry has learned to rely on and orchestrate the white space of emptiness and silence in which, on the page and in a good oral recitation, it is embedded. But poetry is also inclusive; not on the surface, for that is always self-contained, but dialogically it invites participation that has little to do with the words and sentences; it engages, like music and art, the paradigmatic associations of the reader, which one of my favorite romantics, Friedrich Schiller, wrote of as being outside the domain of human judgment and therefore fully able to bypass human bias, ideology, will, and go without resistance straight to the core, the heart, of the reader. The novel can be, almost must be in its traditional representations, inclusive, but it is inclusive on its surface, on the level of plot rather than paradigmatically. Anything that can be worked into the plot and the development of character can be included.

Getsi 6 The novel operates by sucking the reader into itself. The poem operates by sucking the reader into her/himself. But then, there are experiments in these genres, tilting the weights, shifting the balances. I have mentioned Jorie Graham's poems, which expand their ever-expanding syntagmatic surfaces by filling them with the paradigmatic, in a truly astonishing subversion of genre. There is Paul Celan, one of the figures of repetition in AVA as the "drowned poet": his poems are pure paradigmatic force, imploded through the choked surface of compressed discourse; he is a language poet who digs out unbearable, wrenching associations through the exposure of the formal blueprints of language, rather like watching a human form of flesh deflesh itself to expose the bone and sinew, an interior surface of form. (Earth was in them/ and they dug.) And there is Carole Maso, experimenter with the language-forms of the novel (Who can think about a novel. I can--Carole quotes Gertrude Stein in her most revealing essay on formal conception, "Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose" 45). Carole thinks about the form of the novel, I believe, always. Once in 1991, while Carole was teaching at Illinois State University and lived a few blocks from me, while The Art Lover was being published and while she was finalizing her manuscript of AVA, I set myself my initial exercise in getting at the core of Carole's stylistic and conceptual similarities to lyric poetry. I "poeticized," "poemed" a passage from Ghost Dance, which I had recently taught in a graduate class that explored genre/gender bending. I had entitled the course "The Death of Narrative" after reading Ghost Dance and Marguerite Duras's The War: A Memorial. Here is my poetization of the section of Ghost Dance on pages sixteen and seventeen of the paperback originally published by North Point Press in 1986. Ghost Dance Invention was everything to my mother and in that quiet, dark house I learned how to fill empty space and dispel silence. In that house where she was absent I learned how to conjure her back. Silence would give way to footsteps, shadows would lighten, and she would come closer. I could see her stepping momentarily into light, her gray gaze, the beautiful bone structure of her face. Mother I would say and she would turn to reveal the tendons in her neck or a curl that encircled her ear. I would see some familiar motion of hers and it would become new. I would see something more

Getsi 7 and I would understand her better. I learned to halve the distance, then make smaller divisions. I might smell rain though the day was sunny, feel the texture of her hair, wild in such humidity, or watch her walk in moonlight, a strand of long hair in the rain, a scrap of voice, a melody, down a dark street in Nice. I was never lonely. In my house the darkness always gave way. My house whirls and whirls with mist and moonlight and lovers. On hot summer nights a handsome stranger from Spain plays the guitar and a slow fan turns within me. In my house there are dresses of twilight, and snowstorms, and towers. In my house are intricate scenarios, racehorses and flowers and satin and my mother is a little girl in my house, drifting to sleep, dreaming of flowers and horses. In my house, in my heavy house, which I carry on my back like a turtle, a dark-eyed woman weeps for someone who is permanently lost to her. All I have done is simply leave things out: the father and Grandma Alice and their perspectives of the mother. A lyric poem cannot easily include perspectives other than the speaker's, emotions other than the speaker's. I've left out the actions of the mother, going to France, for instance, that did not bear upon and body forth the speaker's utter longing for her mother, the kind of longing one can only have for one who is permanently lost. I added nothing, not a word, but by selectively dropping things out, the focus remains on the speaker's house, the quiet dark house that she carries on her back like a turtle carries its home, the environment of her longing, where all things become part of the furniture and ambience of the gestation of abject desire, longing that can never be fulfilled, longing whose aim is the continuation of itself and not fulfillment. In tightening the focus to the metaphoric flexings of a single image, single perspective, and single emotion, a lyric poem bodies forth from part of a novel. All the things removed are, on the other hand, what one would need in order to write a novel, to plot a narrative, to allow for the dialogical revelations that character interactions produce. What is also foregrounded in the poem, that is only obliquely present in the novel, is the body as it voices itself textually in the hesitations and pauses and syncopations of line and stanza breaks, as it wrings itself though the language of desire spoken by one speaker through one image of longing. The body is also present in the language of the novel, but I think that is because

Getsi 8 the novel is so lyric and it is unexpected for a novel to contain the body, to be spoken/written through a body. In the title essay of Break Every Rule: "If writing is language and language is desire and longing and suffering, and it is capable of great passion and also great nuances of passion--the passion of the mind, the passion of the body--and if syntax reflects states of desire, is hope, is love, is sadness, is fury, and if the motions of sentences and paragraphs and chapters are this as well, if the motion of line is about desire and longing and want; then why when we write, when we make shapes on paper, why then does it so often look like the traditional, straight models, why does our longing look for example like John Updike's longing? Oh not in the specifics--but in the formal assumptions: what a story is, a paragraph, a character, etc. Does form imply a value system? Is it a statement about perception?" (157) I am of course not saying that Carole is the first writer to bend and break the (masculinist) language rules, that there have not been experiments with lyricism in the novel going on for a long time. I remember reading in the mid-sixties while I was in college the Australian Janet Frame's Faces in the Water, not about her experience as a schizophrenic in the psych ward, but the enactment in language of the experience. I was breathless with attraction and filled with the beauty of terror. Djuna Barnes's Nightwood affected me in the same way, as did the black (male) Jean Toomer's Cane. These are twentieth-century novels; in the very early nineteenth century, Georg Büchner's Lenz is a prose experiment with the language of schizophrenia, an enactment of schizophrenia, as it "tells" the story of the schizophrenic Jakob Lenz, a not unimportant but largely forgotten writer of that time. In these "lyric" novels (Cane is a mixture of fiction, poetry, and even drama), plot is buried--there is only enough of a notion of consequence, plot, to spread a delicately built bridge over the alpine chasm (Hölderlin's image, and one that Carole is also familiar with) of the dark force of the death of self: the sui-cide, the murder of the I inherent in language experimentation designed to try to rid the world of the separation of the self from the world and all that is not the self, a form of experimentation I believe is ultimately a world-changing, transformative healthy impulse, even though it often causes great personal suffering to the experimenter. Why is it mostly women writers that attempt this kind of experiment with the formal properties of language as they create a novel? (Oh sure, Julio Cortázar experiments--but not with language forms. He experiments with the form of the novel while using the traditional (male) forms of language. He writes two novels, and more, in Hopscotch. But each of them are written in the same traditional language, the syntax of teleology and plot and character and episode. He simply reorders the sections like shuffling a deck of cards.) Why did the rise of feminism in the 1960s usher in more and more of this kind of experimentation? Perhaps for the same reasons that madhouses, attics, and psych wards were 80 percent filled with women until the 1970s; that most medical experiments in the l940s and l950s with shock treatment therapy and prefrontal lobotomy were on women and black men. These "othered" could offer a new language of their objectified body/mind and had an, unconscious perhaps, interest in subverting the agency of the dominant subject, those who were doing the objectifying, the separating, the

Getsi 9 empowering, the disempowering. These language (and sometimes personal) experiments are further examples of what Cixous means in "The Laugh of the Medusa" by a "language that can heal rather than separate." The final project in my course called "The Death of Narrative" was a trans-gender-lation of Thomas Mann's novelle (a masculine form of linearity if there ever was one) into a feminist text. This assignment also makes its appearance in AVA, as a subset of repetitions having to do with the form of art and the novel. How did that assignment appear in AVA? When Carole came to Bloomington-Normal she would sometimes visit my classes in comparative literature, the "Death of Narrative" course among them, which I taught in various versions for several years and which always contained that assignment, or my course in European romanticism. There are also mentionings in AVA, as part of Ava's mind-talk generated by her vast experience of world literature, of Hölderlin, von Kleist, and other German romantics. One night while Carole was there, I took the class through a quality of German syntax that Hölderlin explored in his poems and thought until it literally drove him mad: Because of its nominative and accusative case endings which are the same for the definite articles, German can be forced into flipping these subject and object positions in the sentence-field, making the subject the object or the reverse. Hölderlin pushed the language into doing this, effectively deconstructing the entire pattern of language-thought (Whorf's thought-world) in the Western world and committing a kind of self-death as the borders between the I-subject and the you- or it-object blurred and the two changed positions and agency. The entire class was blown away by this (the site of subjectivity and the self-other dichotomy are key notions in modernism and postmodernism), but Carole was, as she often is, profoundly affected. In a sense, she is very like her novels and their language: without skin, no shrink-wrap to keep intruders out, but instead porous, opened up to what Ellison's Invisible Man called the "nodes" between the words, the gaps that shred the inexorable drive of teleology. In Hölderlin's language Carole witnessed nihilism in its terrifying crucible of hope, a stunning example that what can destroy also contains what can save (Hölderlin's "Patmos") and the reverse. The openness of the form of AVA allows for these kinds of inclusions from her daily life, her job, her friends, into the pulsations of her mind as it strays laterally across a problem, circles back, again and again, until the pattern of straying and returning resolves the problem in a metaphoric kind of comparison. All of that becomes, as she says, her art so that she has trouble distinguishing her life from her art (and there are risks in this, she also says--the kinds of personal risks I exampled above in Hölderlin's life, those risks that cause this kind of writing to be extraordinary acts of courage, so in the heart are they located). And in a way AVA could stand as that assignment in trans-gender-lation because of its formal--that is anaphoric (re-petitional: petitioning the mind repeatedly)--subversions of the male language of intentionality, teleological thought and practice, objectification, exclusion, empowerment and disempowerment. (Loving repeating is one way of being, "A Novel of Thank You" 82). I know several women scholars my age (heading toward sixty) and younger who have had the shocking, dislocating recognition of the body's having been eliminated, abstracted, from the language of scholarship, science, and research. I remember vividly a

Getsi 10 moment in graduate school. I was studying for my doctorate in comparative literature, a time when my first marriage was suffering the schizoid existence women who were scholars were "sentenced" to, and before I recognized that the "sentence" laid upon me as a woman-academic would lie on (to?) me in the shape of any man I would later marry until I reformed the "sentence," exploded it, reclaimed it, made it open to the very body that I sensed and thought with. I was writing a critical paper on Octavio Paz's "Piedra del Sol," "The Sunstone." There I was, having all sorts of intellectual fun at my typewriter "solving" the poem on a conceptual level while holding at bay the powerful physical and emotional effect the poem's reliance on anaphora (loving repeating is one way of being)-on what we would now call its nonlinear, pulsing, sexually charged, anaphoric, circling language--was having on me. I became, sitting there, wrenched. I thought I was coming apart. And I was. I was a living emblem of the Western philosophical mind-body split. When the pressure became explosive, I suddenly found my madly typing fingers flying through an utterly new kind of language in a paragraph of pure body, an enactment, a representation of my physical resonance--breath, sexual surging, belly sob, constellating thought--with the language of this poem. Then, the orgasmic paragraph written, I returned to my critical mode and went on until the analysis was complete in some kind of amnesiacal erasure of everything I had just written. I left the paragraph in, enclosing it in parentheses as I knew it was not the same voice or person who wrote the critical essay. The professor gave me an A on the paper and simply put a red question mark in the margin beside that paragraph. (And he was from Mexico!) Maso's AVA has become a formal model not only for a more inclusionary fiction whose impulse is desire rather than story, but also for the inclusionary, centripetaling-centrifuging essay, the kind that moves circularly with the planetary, gravitational pull of the paradigm, its metaphoric, associational accretions of meaning--layering, stacking, packing, connecting, webbing-until meaning has finally nothing at all to do with the words but rather with the oscillation of the paradigm, with the polyphony of the intertextual, paradigmatic self. Linear, plotted narration is irrevelant here. In AVA, there is no dramatic tension of a kind we associate with the novel, but rather the kind of dramatic intention, in-tension, a tension that circles inward, that we associate with poetry, each revolution hinging on the re-petition, in the vortex of the larger canvas of turning pages. Carole, quoting Wassily Kandinsky, 1910 (probably his "Concerning the Spiritual in Art"): "The apt use of a word (in its poetical sense), its repetition, twice, three times, or even more frequently, according to the need of the poem, will not only tend to intensify the internal structure but also bring out unsuspected spiritual properties in the word itself. Further, frequent repetition of a word (a favorite game of children, forgotten in later life) deprives the word of its external reference. Similarly, the symbolic reference of a designated object tends to be forgotten and only the sound is retained. We hear the pure sound, unconsciously perhaps, in relation to the concrete or immaterial object. But in the latter case pure sound exercises a direct impression on the soul. The soul attains to an objectless vibration, even more complicated, I might say more transcendent, than the reverberations released by the sound of a bell, a stringed instrument or a fallen board. In this direction lie the great possibilities for literature of the future" ("A Novel of Thank You" 102-03).

Getsi 11 "Without apology," Carole writes, "I have tried to create something of a feminine space. New kinds of intimacies. I do not believe in the myth of ungendered writing. Luce Irigaray is much better than I am on this. She says: 'Only those who are still in a state of verbal automatism or mimic already existing meaning can maintain such a scission or split between she who is a woman and she who writes' "("Except Joy" 130). This "sexuate" desiring, including, feminine space is the form and the content of AVA. There is some kind of story, with characters, like a delicately built bridge (Hölderlin again) underpinning, not the novel, but our expectations of what a novel is. You could remove them from this novel and it would not make any difference to the work, only to how we read the work and what we expect from it. When I have taught AVA , some of the students will attempt to plot something out: three husbands, their names and correct order, the final lover Danilo with Ava in the cancer institute on her last day, marrying her then and feeding her the hopeless Chinese herbs, Carlos's grandmother praying for a grandchild, Carlos foretelling Ava's death, Ava's promiscuity, her lover of one night Franz (be careful of the intercom). But this is a dead end. So is plotting out all the allusions to other writers, to other artists, to lived events, to pointing a finger at your teacher and exclaiming (as I had happen in class once), "You are a professor of comparative literature, you have been married several times, you studied opera, you must be Ava!" Who's on first, on second, doesn't matter. Who happened to be close by while Carole was writing and thinking (and she is always writing, thinking, gathering) so that some events from her life were incorporated into the centrifuge of AVA or an essay, doesn't matter. AVA is not a bildungsroman. Not The Education of Ava Klein. Ava is not going to "learn." She is being, fully, all her voices (every voice that Carole has loved) at full throttle, all her desire, her love, her longing, her memory, her appreciation, her pain and her fear, at once, all of her. Instead of laboriously plotting, better to incant the repetitions, follow some through to the last petition (for at-tention, being tensed and at the ready). There is the repetition of the child playing with her shadow on the sidewalk. The re-petition of the shadow for the girl not to step on it. The re-petition of the shadow that is larger than the girl. (Watch out, the paradigm is swinging, in the image of the little girl with her shadow, it is swinging through the turning pages, gyring through the anaphora.) The repetitions circle, a vortex sinking in the well of the paradigmatic, into the shooting of the girl (maybe the same girl, maybe not) shopping with her mother for a summer dress and sandals which petitions and re-petitions the Zodiac Killer who perhaps, perhaps not, shoots her. The paradigm swings into the "signing" of the character-figures, into Ava Klein's sign, somehow implicating the very Zodiac in her fate, a Pisces (what is this fluidity I swim through), also Carole's sign. When I have taught AVA, when Carole has come to read from AVA , among the nonacademic types at the reading or in the class will be AVA groupies: they incant lines, become the chorus, "Green, I want you green"; "I am a Pisces, after all." Transcendent, they have morphed into the spiritual key of AVA's music. And they are closer to AVA than the plotters. They are in the Joie de Vivre Room, not the referenced round room of the Picasso Museum in Antibes, but what it has come to mean through the re-petitioning: the moment of utter sexual desire, of utter desire to merge, change form (the desire of the girl to be a horse, the desire of the novel to be a poem and the obvious erotics of this), impassioned without closure, objectless desire, quite burned by the sun. In the Joie de

Getsi 12 Vivre Room was to have been the title of AVA, but of course, formally, that would have been too delimiting. This constellation of images carried by the joy-of-life room is the most consistent repetition and amassment, along with and connected to the erotic song cycle constellation. Therefore, as a title, it would not only have referenced but would have been limited to the irony of the hospital room where Ava is dying and does die, as being a room of the joy of life, rather than this phatasmagoric space of all that the woman Ava has come to be in her life, collaged and woven and drawn up to the surface by memory and desire in a language that can heal and not separate. The reader would have read the entire novel through that lens, could have in that way manufactured a plot, a logical teleology and all sorts of heavy interpretations, the kind that belong to that other kind of novel that closes its windows and doors (Woolf's Mrs. Ramsay: windows must be open, doors shut) and proceeds step by step through the plotted, spearing alphabet (Woolf's Mr. Ramsay: on to R), the kind of novel that builds walls so that what's inside is a mystery that demands a decoder. The kind of novel that Carole has left in her wake. AVA does not demand interpretation. It demands engagement and enactment and a spiraling up out of the deep shaft of associations into the spacious white markers that weave their silences through the syntagmatic canvas and wait for the reader to chime in with a resonance from the well of the paradigmatic, the core (heart) of the self. These chanting lovers of AVA have it right. They are in the spacious room of the joy of life and full of longing for something that has nothing to do with the words they in(des)cant: the desire of a person to be an artist, the desire of the novel to be a poem, the desire of a voice to become song, the desire of song to be an ear that receives itself singing. And the obvious erotics of this.

Works Cited Maso, Carole."Break Every Rule." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 157-60. ---. "Except Joy: On Aureole." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 114-36. ---. "Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose: A Lifelong Conversation with Myself Entered Midway." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 21-54. ---. "A Novel of Thank You." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 82-104. ---. "Rupture, Verge, and Precipice Precipice, Verge, and Hurt Not." Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire. Washington: Counterpoint, 2000. 161-91.

O’Gorman 1 Strategies for Teaching AVA Kathie O'Gorman

I have taught AVA to a number of different classes, though never with an eye toward writing about the experience. Indeed, those students who joined me for my first classroom work with the text would hardly have thought their experience worth immortalizing, I'd venture to guess! Although they knew their professor had seemingly unbounded enthusiasm for the novel, somehow that energy alone wasn't enough to sustain us. And while a number of those students ended up choosing AVA as the focus of their major essays in the class—a Senior Seminar that culminated in a final writing project of roughly twenty to twenty-five pages—their engagements with the text played out in relatively solitary realms: discussions with me in my office or late night sessions hitting the keys of their computers. Our in-class discussions were disappointing, as much for me as for the group. Still, several students had chosen AVA for their major projects, which signaled to me that the classroom, and not the text, was where I need to focus my attention in every re-teaching. That I would teach the novel again was never a question: it works in so many different ways, raises so many of the issues that I want students to engage, that it was only a question of how, not if, to teach AVA again. I continue to revise and refine strategies, of course, but I am happy to note that in subsequent classes—one of particular note, about which I speak below—the students have read the text with intelligence and insight, and they have responded to it and to each others' engagements with it actively. My goal is to leave them wanting more—never to finish a text or a class feeling as if they have exhausted the material, though often we have all exhausted ourselves! It is with that end in sight that I proceed. I offer these thoughts and strategies, then, as a realistic perspective—and, I hope, as helpful hints—on what has and hasn't worked for me in teaching AVA over the past several years to a variety of different classes.

The Endnotes: To Tell or Not to Tell The first few times I assigned AVA to a class, I wondered whether or not to let the students know in advance about the endnotes. Why would I consider such an intervention into their initial experience of a text? In Senior Seminar we read AVA immediately after Michael Joyce's hypertext Afternoon, A Story, and it might have made sense to alert the students in advance to the textual apparatus accompanying Maso's novel so that they could consider it as they read. Would they read into and out of the list of sources in the way in which the hypertext had them choose to move into and out of different nodes of text within predetermined, highly regulated fields? Did the material presence of the notes at the back of the book determine by their very presence that a choice of how to read had to be made? Or would that only be the case if I intervened and alerted them to the existence of the list in the back? In the Avant-Garde Fiction class we studied AVA after several of Borges's short stories, including "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," in

O’Gorman 2 which footnotes figure prominently as a part of the fiction, and we read it immediately before Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman, a novel whose footnotes likewise form an integral part of the textual apparatus, working on many different levels. It might have made sense to contextualize AVA for the students in this way: "As you read, consider the effect of the notes attached to this text. Do they function in any of the ways in which the notes to 'Pierre Menard' do? Or do they occupy a discursive space quite explicitly other than that of the novel to which they are attached? What makes you think so, one way or the other?" While it's been tempting to offer the students a kind of privileged access to the information contained in the back of the novel by alerting them to the notes in advance, I've opted in every case to let the students discover them on their own. That may be partly because in both classes, we'd already read Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler, and we were all enjoying our metatextual self-conscious recognitions of our own styles and processes of reading as per those foregrounded in Calvino's text. Were we the readers, for example, who read around a given text, skimming the blurbs on the inside cover, browsing and discovering the endnotes before entering the fictive world of the text? Or were we the types of readers who start on the first page and proceed dutifully through to the last page, only then to discern this other element of the material book in our hands? My decision not to direct the students to the notes ahead of time meant that once we actually got to discussing the novel, the status of the endnotes was a much richer element of our discussions than had I preempted that experience of discovery for them. It also felt in keeping with the spirit of the text. Maso's comment before supplying the first source reads in part as follows: "My hope is that these notes, at some point, will enhance the reader's pleasure but in no way interrupt the trance of the text" (269). I did not want to overdetermine the students' experience of the notes, nor did I want to give the notes a kind of prominence they wouldn't otherwise have had. I also wanted to let that randomness—Maso's "at some point"—define to whatever extent possible their experience of the list of sources. One of the first issues we often take up now when we discuss the notes is my making such a decision, one way or the other, and the issues I've indicated above invariably emerge in that discussion.

Quotes Among my favorite teaching strategies for all of the texts I teach, whatever genre, whatever class, is to invite the students to put quotations from the text we're reading on the board. Students usually show up a few minutes early to give themselves time to get their quotes up, though it's not unusual for this activity to run over into our starting time. The only "rules" are that the quotes must come from the texts themselves, with page numbers cited for the benefit of all, and that the students should try to keep their quotes on the left-hand side of the board, so I can use the right-hand side for mine (also taken from the text). No one ever has to indicate why s/he has chosen a particular passage to put on the board, though we try to avoid duplicates. (It is always noteworthy, though, when we realize that some of us have chosen the same single word or line from an entire multihundred-paged novel!) I tell the students that the selection can be for any reason at all: they might note a particular passage because it summarizes a character or situation perfectly, because it makes no sense to them at all, because it's funny (in or out of

O’Gorman 3 context!), because it's outrageous . . . for any reason at all. We leave at least a little space in the middle of the board for ideas I might want to jot down that emerge in our discussion once class is actually in progress. Sometimes we end up referring to the quotes during class, but often we don't: they just define our space on any given day for any given seventy-five-minute period. But they actually do a lot more than that. The students and I find ourselves reading the text differently before we ever get to class, anticipating what we might want to put on the board, alert to the language with a heightened attention to the ways in which it functions. They often recall their quotes—and each others'—in exams, too, which reinforces their own sense of knowing a text well. Perhaps the greatest benefits of the students' writing the quotes on the board, though, are the intangibles that quickly inform the classroom dynamic. It makes for an intensely textcentered course, with students drawn instinctively back to the text to articulate positions during our discussions. Before the professor ever enters the classroom, the students are actively engaged in the text, focusing their thoughts and those of others on issues they've determined—for whatever reason—merit our attention. In effect, the conversation has already started before the class has, and students who might otherwise be reluctant to speak can at least make their presence palpable through their response to the text in highlighting a particular passage. The professor, then, comes into a class that's already energized and focused in some way by the students, and there are already issues in some form "out there" for us all to engage, in whatever way or to whatever extent we choose. Sometimes I begin class discussions by remarking on a particular quote or combination of quotes; sometimes I don't. What matters is that we all have a chance, in a deliberately informal way, to let the text speak to us and for us in every class. It's typical for there to be three or four quotes on the board as any given class begins, and it's not unusual for the students or for me to note in the middle of class that we've left off a particularly apt quote and to add it as we go along. What I was completely unprepared for, though, was what happened in the first session, the second time I taught AVA. I came in to the classroom in which the Senior Seminar met—a room that features blackboards on three of the four walls—and every single student was at the board, filling our "walls" with quotes! They were physically surrounding themselves with the text and were indulging the excess deliberately and joyfully. Nor did they stop just because the professor had entered the room. On the contrary, my reaction—laughter, surprise, walking around reading the various passages they'd selected to immortalize—only seemed to encourage them further. It was one of those moments professors live for—at least, I do—and it was clear from their reactions that it felt equally exhilarating for the students. Their refusal to stay within the set boundaries—left side of the front board, please!—and their covering of the boards with textual "graffiti" meant not only that my quotes would be lost among theirs, but it also meant that all of us spent about the first fifteen or twenty minutes physically walking around the room to see what others had chosen. Clearly what they wanted was to celebrate the text: its words and its silences. And they had found a way to do so. They wanted the physical space in which we met to be defined as literally as possible by the material text that was our common ground. It came as no real surprise later in that same session, then, when a student who was a double major, studying English and Theater, declared that he'd love to choreograph the

O’Gorman 4 novel, to stage it in terms of movement, of dance. We had all just demonstrated to him our own very physical response to the work: the desire to be surrounded by it, immersed in it; the desire to inform—give form to—our study of the novel by insisting that its recursive structuring and rhythmic movements define our collective space. Subsequent meetings of that class and all of my other experiences with students' writing selections from AVA on the board have been more typical, with a range of quotes from every part of the text. So, on any particular day, a combination like the following might appear on the left side of the board: "It was called:" (93) "The child practices the letter A. Make a mountain peak. And then cross it. A." (62) "I'm beginning to detect the heat of the plot." (161) "Flying into Bloomington, Illinois." (115) "Learn then to love the questions." (171) "Careful of the intercom." (249) I might select my own quotes to focus on issues I want to be sure to cover that day or for other specific reasons determined by our progress to date, but my choices may be "just" passages of compelling beauty or lyricism, too. The purposes are endless, but the quotes are a must. One added advantage to using quotations on the board as a teaching strategy with AVA is that it builds in the students an experience of literature akin to that of Ava Klein, professor of comparative literature, whose life is informed by her own remembered quotes. It opens up a different way for the students to appreciate what's going on in the text with constructs of self (the discursive worlds made present by the different voices and texts invoked) and the multivocal or univocal self constructed in the process of articulating this particular life. Those can be good issues to consider as a group: How do those other textual worlds impact this text? Or, a very different question and set of issues, though related: What happens when the reader takes the words of García Lorca, of Borges, of Beckett, of Cixous and others as the voice of Ava Klein? How do the slippages back and forth destabilize and/or enrich the perceived fictive world?

Class Discussion/Group Work When we begin any novel in my classes, I expect the students to have the entire text read so that we can range over any of it as needed in any class session. I prefer to let students lead the way as much as possible in class discussions, so I usually open with one of two strategies, when I'm not using the quotes as points of departure. For a modified version of

O’Gorman 5 student-led participation, I ask some general questions to which they jot a response in about five minutes and then use their responses to set the terms of the discussion; I list their ideas on the board or ask them to pass their papers to the person to their right for a five-minute response in writing from that person. My original questions might be something like, "What seemed to you to be the most [fill in the blank: compelling; difficult; evocative; beautiful; intellectually engaging; controversial] passage of the text? Why?" The second respondent's task is fairly open: s/he might write questions about the classmate's choice of a passage, or s/he might argue for the merits of his/her own choice vis-à-vis the classmate's. If I've set it up in terms of a respondent, though, I call on students and ask them to restate the case of the person whose paper they have in hand— not their own—and only when they've done so to the satisfaction of the original writer can they tell the rest of us what their own thoughts are. We then consider others' choices and try to get a sense of the issues we all consider important in the text, as these selections indicate. A different kind of prompt to get discussion focused is to ask a question or two (to which they respond in writing for five minutes) about questions they have about the text. In the case of AVA, I permit questions of fact (Does one of Ava's husbands really die in a plane crash? Is she ever really pregnant? What's the rabbit path referring to?). While with other novels such questions may indicate careless reading, with AVA certain indeterminacies are built into this text quite deliberately, and the fact that the reader is endlessly revising his/her apprehension of what would seemingly be the most straightforward facts of a life bears consideration. We take on as many questions as possible together, and I collect all, often using those we haven't covered to structure subsequent class discussions. I am careful not to position myself as the "answer person," so students volunteer or are called on to pose their questions to the group. While I may inquire about why an issue has emerged as a concern for several students—a way of highlighting emerging topics— usually the students can help quite a bit to address questions their classmates pose. In this kind of a first session on a novel, then, regardless of the focus of the initial brief written response, there's a certain sloppiness in terms of coverage, but that seems to me a reasonable trade-off (if it is one at all) for greater student involvement in the class. I usually find that the students are good at determining issues, and I prefer to keep them as engaged as possible, rather than entering with my own list and dictating immediately what matters and how we'll cover it. Alternatively, I have two students come to class prepared to lead the discussion. In that case, the students commit to a text in the first class of the semester, and usually they have no idea what they've agreed to discuss, having read none ahead of time. In teaching AVA, I've relied primarily on the student-led discussion for the initial session (of four, usually), insisting that they inform the discussion with some sense of the critical heritage. That is, they need at least to be familiar with whatever's been written about their chosen text, and that needs to be evident. They might propose critics' interpretations and ask the class how viable they seem; they might come to class with questions of their own and integrate the critics' ideas into their responses to each other. In any case, they're developing research

O’Gorman 6 skills and learning how to consider critical articles and book reviews without merely taking them at their word. Often, students in this situation consult with me before leading the class discussion. They may want to get a sense of what kind of "coverage" I'm looking for. I insist that this is their prerogative; what they don't cover, I will. They can give the presentation, which usually takes the form of discussion questions or small group work, whatever emphasis they choose. The only caveats are that they are not allowed to turn this into a study of the author, and they are not allowed merely to use the text as a pretext for musings on their own lives. The former isn't usually a problem; the latter can be. One young woman came to my office and said she was having considerable difficulty figuring out how to lead discussion on the novel because it reminded her so much of her mother's death. It was helpful that she herself realized the inappropriateness of grounding class discussion in so highly emotional and individual an experience. I suggested she design questions to be both broad and narrow (categories that in themselves moved us away from personal memories), and I gave her some samples from a presentation some classmates had made on a different novel. She and her co-presenter decided to break the class into small groups to take up the issues they chose. They posed something like the following: Group 1 What difference does it make that Ava Klein is dying? How does the novel use her movement towards death? How does the novel use presence—life—and absence— death? Group 2 Identify as many different kinds of communication as you can in the novel (TV, letters, fax, intercom, conversations, silences, gestures, etc). What does the novel do with them? How do they affect what's communicated to the reader? Group 3 In an essay we found, Carole Maso says AVA is a war novel. Do you agree with her? Why or why not? (They gave the fuller quote to the group upon request): War as a subject permeates the text of AVA, but more importantly war dictates the novel's shape. A very deep longing for peace, one I must admit I had scarcely been aware of, overwhelmed me as I watched the efficient, precise elimination of people, places, things by my government. My loathing for the men who were making this, and my distrust of male language and forms led me to search for more feminine shapes, less "logical" perhaps, since a terrible logic had brought us here, less simplistic, a form that might be capable of imagining peace, accommodating freedom, acting out reunion. ("One Moment" 3-4) Group 4

O’Gorman 7

What's the "erotic song cycle" there for? What did you make of it? Of music in general throughout the novel? As is usually the case in the classes I teach, the discussion leaders let the students decide which group they wanted to join, determined by the issues each group considered. The class in general cajoled and coerced if a particular topic had a disproportionate number in its group, whether too many or too few (as the students or as I perceived it). They had each group determine its own spokesperson, and when each reported back to the collective, after about fifteen minutes worth of chatting among themselves, the two discussion leaders, with minimal help from me, pursued by way of elaboration, summary, further questioning for clarification, etc., their classmates' responses.

Further Questions for Discussion When teaching AVA, I have relied to some extent on a very helpful list of ideas provided by Dalkey Archive Press, which I reproduce here with their permission (as Attachment 1). In some cases I've distributed the list to the class so they can use it to ponder ideas we may not get to as a group. In others, I've withheld it so it isn't distracting, if we're only going to touch on a few of the issues the list raises. That decision rests as much as anything on how much I'm expecting the students to do on their own. In Senior Seminar I prefer to let students get some sense of issues and of ways they might think of working with texts without doing too much to set the direction that their much more extensive considerations of a text might take. In the Avant-Garde Fiction class, we do more indepth work as a group, so in that one I'm more likely to cover the topics with the students, making distribution of the list superfluous. I focus more on the first several sections of the list and haven't had much opportunity to use their "Intersections of the Modern and the Contemporary," though in the Avant-Garde Fiction class I incorporate a version of the "Intersections" by having students compare Maso with other writers we cover. I have never used their "Writing Exercises," so I can't report on that. How I use the questions suggested by Dalkey Archive Press depends: if I have the luxury of lots of time, I have the students work in groups, so there's a lot of discussion in which they participate in smaller, more comfortable units which then report back to us all. If time is more constrained, I lead the discussion and focus issues more sharply as we proceed. I begin with questions from the "Format" section of the list, and the first question, which highlights students' actual experience of reading, usually elicits quite a lot of response. For that reason, I'm willing to indulge it perhaps more fully than with other novels: I want the students to start to articulate their responses to the experience of the text as material artifact as well as their experience of it as story. It means that when we get into questions of the politics of white space, they've already said something about it, if not quite in those terms. The question about recursive structure also helps us consider strategies of narration, though the students sometimes get impatient with so intense a focus on structure. They're right, to some extent: we may err in the direction of too much initial emphasis on what seems like the apparatus and not the "story." But when

O’Gorman 8 we begin to integrate into our discussion some of the other structural elements—the division of the text into Morning, Afternoon, and Night, for example—they are usually better able to see how inextricably bound up with one another are the telling and the tale. Taking up the imagery next helps further to build a sense of the interrelationships between the form and the events that the novel relates. Images of flight, for example, range from birds—"finches at the feeder" (5)—to airplanes. The two converge horrifically when we read of an airplane crash killing one of Ava Klein's husbands, and we are offered the surreal rendering, "In the sky a baby flying" (93). We are reminded constantly that "Ava" means "bird," that our narrator is a "rare bird," and we also see "Samuel Beckett learning to fly" (21) and Vladimir Nabokov chasing butterflies. We read, "They make a noise like wings" (235), apparently referring to the "green leaves" of the preceding line of text. While the placement of the line here may give it that association, "They make a noise like wings" is originally from Beckett's Waiting for Godot and refers in the original to "All the dead voices" (40b), not to green leaves, which expands its signifying capacity here markedly. Once we have a group of ideas like this on the board, or once a small group has brainstormed and browsed the text to see what they can generate to construct such a list, we consider more fully how images of flight are working in the novel. Because our list includes references to Beckett and Nabokov and quotes a passage from Godot, the discussion leads naturally to considering the question of voice: When so much of the imagery comes from remembered texts, what effect does that have on the narrative? We tend to spend a significant amount of time on voice and those other texts, and it's often at this juncture, if we haven't done so earlier, that we discuss the endnotes. The discussion of voice anticipates the questions on language and the alphabet that students in these more advanced classes seem to enjoy most. Often we begin to trace some of the quoted passages from Cixous, for example, to see what the text suggests about possible functions of language ("to heal as much as it separates"), and we go back to the passages concerning the young girl learning her alphabet and the ways in which the text situates that alphabet (with the primitive fires, with the puns on "letters," with its relation to music and silence, with the available means one has to articulate a world). In short, the questions I use from the list are usually in the order in which they appear. While Dalkey Archive may not have set them up with that kind of adherence in mind, I've found they work well when taken roughly (and selectively) in sequence. I also occasionally use my own list of "Ideas to Consider" for a text, which signals to the students issues and problems the text might present that we may or may not ever get to explicitly in class. They seem to appreciate having something literally to hold onto, and it gives us some preformulated prompts if discussion slows or threatens to diverge from the text. These are by no means exhaustive, but they do tend to range over a wide variety of perspectives on the focal text. I include (as Attachment 2) a version of the sheet I've used for AVA, edited so that there is no repetition of student questions listed above, nor is there repetition of the ideas proposed by the list from the Dalkey Archive Press. These "Ideas to Consider" can be used with the class as a whole or can be distributed among small groups for discussion. They can also be used as exam questions, with perhaps some modification.

O’Gorman 9 As I hope the list suggests, I prefer a combination of broad, open-ended concerns—the body, violence, language—and more specific issues—different ordering systems like the zodiac, specific locales listed in the novel, particular passages to which I want students to attend. I find the combination especially effective in discussing AVA. As with the quotes on the board, it demonstrates our need to ground discussion in the words and the form of the text, but it establishes a kind of open-endedness that indicates the impossibility of exhausting the meaning-making strategies of the novel. It affirms indeterminacy and breadth of range without translating into intellectual carelessness. The essay questions/paper topics follow the same structuring, with a balance, I hope, between particularity of reference and openness to ideas. While the questions can be addressed in many different ways—there's no "right" answer—they do demand focused attention to and a carefully elaborated sense of very specific concerns. Hence, the need to apply a critic's statement to a variety of texts or the "what/how" combination that insists on detailed argument of a position. As I try to indicate to the students over the course of the semester in every writing situation, there may not be one right answer, but there are better or worse ways of making an argument or of elaborating an explanation. The questions I pose in the "essay exams/paper topics" segment of the sheet do, I hope, pull students in the direction of better answers, whatever position they argue. Many of the questions ask them to consider two texts in terms of a single proposition and/or in terms of each other; I often find that doing this prompts them to consider new ideas about both. It's one of my ways of trying to make the taking of an exam a learning situation rather than merely a testing one. Another way in which I do this is to pose questions that don't allow for mere regurgitation of class notes. While it is always helpful for students to review their notes and to study in small groups for the exams, I use questions that come at by-then-familiar material from slightly different vantage points. They need to know the text well and be able to think and write about the issues with some degree of sophistication. They often surprise themselves with what they can do, and if they're less than pleased, we review others' more successful answers in a one-on-one session in my office. This usually demonstrates to them that I don't have some predetermined magic formula I'm looking for as a "right" answer. More important, it also demonstrates to them that others who have sat through the same class sessions, who have read the same texts, and who have had the same time constraints in writing answers can produce work that is quite good. It demystifies the process and shows them not only that they can do better, but how they can do so.

Instead of a Conclusion I want to end this discussion of strategies for teaching AVA by recalling how one student initially responded to the text. He came to our first discussion with lists—one indicating every reference in the text to language/the alphabet (with the quotation and page number) and another with every reference to the erotic song cycle (again with quote and page number for each). We joked about his being "the kind of reader who makes lists" as per Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler, but we were all grateful when John could locate passages for us quickly when discussion veered into those realms that he'd decided

O’Gorman 10 interested him enough to track. I was struck by the fact that in order to make such a compilation, he'd gone back and reread many times, following those threads, isolating and reintegrating them into his own experience of the text. His reading around and through the text, backward and forward, as he searched for the references he was following, did much to affirm and to demonstrate the many and varied ways in which the text proposes meaning. There was no more committed and engaged reader in that class than this student who, in a subsequent class on James Joyce, announced that he'd have to go back and reread AVA because he'd need to think about those passages that referred to "Labyrinth of Crete, mystery of water, home" (4 and elsewhere) in Maso's novel. Taking the pleasures of the text beyond the limits of one class and one collective engagement with it, John reminded me yet again of the pleasures of a professor of literature— comparative or otherwise—in listening to students and in leaving them wanting more.

Attachment 1 AVA by Carole Maso Ava Klein, thirty-nine, lover of life, world traveler, professor of comparative literature, is dying. From her hospital bed on this, her last day on earth, she makes one final ecstatic voyage. FORMAT One of the most compelling ways to open discussion of AVA is through the portals of form. Certainly a first glance tells the reader that this novel is not in traditional blockparagraph nor in-medias-res-to-denouement structure. Some initial topics to present are: • How did you read this book? How is it similar to or different from literature that you've read previously? What structural strategies of space and line most affected your reading, either negatively or positively? Why? (reasons of canonical tradition? preference? limitations of reading experience? difficulty of text?) Discuss the politics of white space: generosity, uncertainty, jouissance, silence as possibility, silence as death, meditation of reader or narrator or author. Why might the author have decided to explore the politics of juxtaposition instead of paragraphing—and what are their freedoms and limits? Imagine the text in traditional "storytelling" paragraphs: would more than form change? Speculate on how the author created the text—and why. Compare this style to Faulkner's strategies of line, paragraph and style. [Obviously, since I don't teach Faulkner in these classes, I use others as a point of comparison: Marguerite Duras is quite helpful for the issues noted here; Michael Joyce's Afternoon, A Story is helpful especially since Maso notes in an interview that she actively chose not to set AVA as a hypertext.]

• • •

O’Gorman 11 • Is recursive structure static or mobile (or both) as a vehicle for the narrative of AVA? How is pace affected? Mood? How does the way that the book is divided— Morning, Afternoon, and Night—complement or contradict the rest of the novel's structure? [I find it necessary to define "recursive structure," and Brian McHale's definition is the one that I use. See his Postmodern Fiction 112–19.]

IMAGERY AS NARRATIVE The imagery and repetition of imagery in AVA function to reveal meaning and mood rather than to describe them. The novel's space also allows for a greater participation of the reader than would be granted by a traditional narrative with a concrete plot. • • What imagery seems most effective to you in AVA? What does this imagery convey? Why might it be more effective than other images? What does your own realm of experience have to do with your connection to these images? Discuss the reshaping of written text from linear format into recursive format through repetition and cyclical imagery such as Ava's erotic song cycles, the little girl writing the letter A, the very shape of the name AVA. What do you think these images attempt to relate? Suggested reading: Julia Kristeva's essay "Women's Time" about monumental (cyclical) time and linear time. (In Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 7 (1981) or as reprinted in Critical Theory Since 1965, ed. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle (Tallahassee: Florida State UP, 1986), 471-85.)

LANGUAGE • • Cixous describes the novel as one that "attempts to come up with a language that heals, as much as it separates." How can language both bring us together and pull us apart? Where do you find the healing taking place in AVA? the separation? Suggested Reading: Hélène Cixous's essay about women's language in "The Laugh of the Medusa." (In Signs 1 (1976) or as reprinted in Critical Theory Since 1965, ed. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle (Tallahassee: Florida State UP, 1986), 309-21.) Carole Maso writes in a lyrical prose that many readers have called poetic. What differentiates prose from poetry? Which genre does AVA most closely approximate, and what makes you think so? What prose texts set themselves far from the lyricism of poetic prose? Why? How does point of view affect the language of the novel (in intimacy of tone, in relationship of narrator and reader, in its affect on the lyricism or music of the novel's language)? Suggested Reading: Walter R. Johnson's essay on the use of pronouns (the I – You impulse in lyric) in "Swans in Crystal: The Problem of the Modern Lyric and Its Pronouns," The Idea of Lyric (Berkeley: U of California P, 1982), 1-23.

• •

O’Gorman 12 INTERSECTIONS OF THE MODERN AND THE CONTEMPORARY Many of the images from Ava's memory are of those artists who influenced her—both literary and musical figures. Either as individuals or by dividing the students into small groups, have the students "adopt" the following artists and present insights to the class on the artist's life, works, style/narrative strategies, and relationship to Ava Klein and the novel AVA itself. For hints on routes to follow, see the sources section in the back of the book. Prior discussion of the novel's format will facilitate the suggested questions about juxtaposition. • • • • Pablo Neruda: On page 14, how might the tenth entry about the late verses of Neruda explain AVA-as-narrator's strategy in shaping the novel (from the Greek fictio, or shaping)? the author's strategy? Federico García Lorca: From what Lorca poem does the line "Green, how much I want you green" derive and what is a brief explication of that poem? What does the repetition of this line have to do with AVA both through form and meaning? Sappho: Look at several of Sappho's poems. What juxtapositions do you find to Maso's book? What major differences? Hélène Cixous: What is the "laugh of the Medusa," according to Cixous's essay by the same name? How might that concept of the laugh, as well as the idea of writing through the body, be exemplified in AVA? Does Maso "write through the body," as Cixous claims women do? Does Ava? What is the difference between what the author is writing and what the narrator is relaying to the reader? Monique Wittig: Define "multivalence" as it applies to feminist theory. Explain how multivalence is shown in Wittig's text Les Guérillères and in AVA. Ezra Pound: What is Pound's theory of vorticism? What is the relationship of Pound's work to the structure of AVA? (Be sure to consider the possibility of complements and contradictions herein.) Gertrude Stein: Define "stream of consciousness" writing. How might Stein's stream-of-consciousness style have influenced the structure of AVA?

• • •

Other artists from Ava Klein's memory to assign as student adoptions are: • • • • • • • • • • Samuel Beckett Danilo Kis Vladimir Nabokov Wallace Stevens Wolfgang Mozart T. S. Eliot Johann Wolfgang Goethe Paul Celan Nathalie Sarraute Virginia Woolf


O’Gorman 13

What is the Joie de Vivre room (literally Joy of/for Life) in the novel, both in tone and meaning? What does it mean to you, for instance, if you were to take a snapshot of one moment in or aspect of your life and label it the Joie de Vivre room? We are all influenced by many people in our lifetimes. Who has most influenced your writing and how? Or who would you most like to have as an influence on your writing and why? In both instances, be sure to include how your writing has transformed or might be transformed. The author describes AVA as a "living text." What might she mean? What are some examples in the novel that show you how the text lives? Explain and cite your examples. You may wish to compare AVA as a living text to another novel you've read.

Attachment 2 IDEAS TO CONSIDER: AVA • Why all of the references to the planets and the stars? (See, for example, pages 5, 6, 66, 112, 193, 200, 261, 263, 264.) How do these work with the references to disguise and to the zodiac? What do they add to the text? [I usually need to inform students about the Zodiac killings in California.] What does the novel do with violence? Identify different kinds of violence in the text (physical and psychological, for example), and consider how they evoke different dimensions of Ava Klein's life and history. Discuss what the text does with the body. (For all of AVA's celebrations of desire, for example, it is an AIDS-related illness that seems to determine Ava Klein's fate.) It's difficult to keep all of Ava's lovers and/or husbands straight. What effect does this have on the narrative? In general, what does the text do with notions of self and other, with individuation and differentiation? What does the text assert about language and languages? How does it do so? The text refers to lots of different ordering systems: the alphabet, the signs of the zodiac, religion, language/s, numbers, medicine, armies, to name but a few. What does it do with notions of order and chaos? What makes you think so? Critic Gabriel Josipovici has said of certain novels, "As with a cubist painting, the reader is forced to move again and again over the material that is presented, trying to force it into a single vision, a final truth, but is always foiled by the resistant artifact." Does this statement pertain to AVA? Why or why not? Does the novel propose singularity even as it resists it? How so? Or does it try for something different? What? What happens to voice in AVA, with so many unidentified fragments of other narratives interpolated into Ava Klein's meditations?

• • • • • •

O’Gorman 14 • Milan Kundera has said, "The novel questions everything." Does AVA question everything, or does it just question certain things? With specific reference to the text, what is called into question? What makes you think so? (Be sure to consider form in answering this.) AVA uses linear time—Morning, Afternoon, Night—as an overriding structure, even as it demonstrates the inadequacy of such a schema to represent the lived experience of time. What's the point? There are several issues here to consider: imposing an organizing strategy that is then (perhaps) subverted; breaking the novel into three discrete segments (what are the arguments for the integrity of each?); the simultaneous representation of conflicting experiences of time. Related to the above, what does AVA do with beginnings? Endings? Maso says that she considered making AVA a hypertext but decided against it. Argue for or against the wisdom of that decision. [I only use this, of course, in classes in which we've studied at least one hypertext novel.] What does AVA propose about the apprehension or the making of meaning in life? How does it do so? What does AVA do with space/place? You might want to consider this in terms of private (the domestic sphere, rooms, home, private gardens) and public (the hospital, cafés, movie theaters, public gardens, different cities or the idea of the city, national/international realms), or you may consider it in other ways: the affirmation of movement through space in flight, in dance; the evocation of place in sensuous terms in a literal place that would seem to preclude such a perspective, or any other notions of space/place that seem appropriate to the text. Which elements of AVA are modernist? Postmodern?

• • • •

Essay Exams/Paper Topics When I have students write on AVA, I sometimes choose from the "Ideas to Consider" sheet, or I pair novels together for them to discuss. I list here some of the latter possibilities, which might be adapted for in-class or take-home essay exams or for paper topics: • Argue for or against the following idea: in Kiss of the Spider Woman and AVA, Puig and Maso propose that the essential human activity is the telling of stories, an act of the imagination. Be sure to consider whether the structures of the texts themselves affirm or belie such a proposition. What do Afternoon, A Story and AVA do with notions of fragmentation and coherence? How do they do this? At one point in The Death of Artemio Cruz, Cruz thinks, "to live is to find separation." How does that statement apply to that novel and to AVA? How do the content and form of each novel reinforce and/or contravene this statement? Alphabetical Africa and AVA both draw attention to language at its most basic level: the alphabet. Are they, in very different ways, saying the same things about

• • •

O’Gorman 15 it? Or are they each saying something distinctive about the alphabet? What is each saying? How is it saying that?

Notes 1 In trying to discern why that particular teaching of the text was so unsuccessful, I have to admit to being a bit stymied because of the many variables: class dynamic, the particular time in the semester, even the intensity of my own enthusiasm for the novel, against which the students might instinctively recoil or which might have made it more difficult for me to articulate compelling arguments about the text. In their course evaluations, in which I explicitly asked the students why they thought we hadn't really done justice to AVA, they said perhaps it hadn't worked because we read it after having studied Duras's The Lover, which they thought used language and structure in many of the same ways. They thought it had been a good balance to what they saw as an insistently masculine text—Fuentes's The Death of Artemio Cruz—but they thought that Duras and Maso together became a bit tedious. What this signaled to me was that among other things, I had failed to do enough with the complexities of voice that the extensive use of quotation sustains in AVA, a feature that distinguishes it from Duras's novel in significant ways. 2 I've taught AVA four times, on two different occasions in each of two different courses: "Senior Seminar: Modern/Postmodern," and "Avant-Garde Fiction," a class that studies experimental writing, not the historic Avant-Garde. Both are upper-level undergraduate English courses with prerequisites, and students populating both are, for the most part, junior and senior English majors or minors. It makes a difference, I think, that the students had self-selected based on an interest in experimental forms in both courses and that, as upper-level students, they had some sense of genre and could appreciate some of the ways in which AVA works both within and against its boundaries. It helped, too, that every section had enough students to sustain good discussions without being unwieldy.

Works Cited Abish, Walter. Alphabetical Africa. New York: New Directions, 1974. Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. Ed. Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby. New York: New Directions, 1964. Calvino, Italo. If on a winter's night a traveler. Trans. William Weaver. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1979. Duras, Marguerite. The Lover. Trans. Barbara Bray. New York: Harper & Row, 1984. Fuentes, Carlos. The Death of Artemio Cruz. Trans. Alfred MacAdam. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991.

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Joyce, Michael. Afternoon, a story. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, 1987. Maso, Carole. AVA. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1993. —-. "One Moment of True Freedom." Belles Lettres 8.4 (1993): 3-5. McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction. New York: Methuen, 1987. Puig, Manuel. Kiss of the Spider Woman. Trans. Thomas Colchie. New York: Vintage, 1980.

'The Blessed Syncope of Supreme Moments': The Music of Time in AVA Karen Lee Osborne

"Music. The love of my mother's life. And then—her life." (AVA 156)

"Prolonging the world with song." (AVA 236)

The changing treatment of time in twentieth century fiction can be linked to the breakdown of belief in a unified subject or an objectively verifiable reality. By the early twentieth century, fiction had begun to emphasize impressionistic perception and interior states of mind. Many writers, responding to scientific, philosophical, psychological and other theories, began to reject linear narrative as insufficient for the kind of experience they wished to create in their fiction. The distinction Henri Bergson and others made between an abstract, mechanical time measured by clocks and the subjective experience of duration is helpful when reading many modern and postmodern texts. Time as flux, a heterogeneous flow of interpenetrating moments, is evoked through fragmentation, montage, jump cuts, ellipses and other techniques. Postmodern writers like Carole Maso adapt these techniques in lyrical novels that can be read as prose poems. AVA is an example of such a work. In this essay I hope to show how Maso's approach to time in AVA both invents and subverts linear plots and can be understood as a musical composition employing what Catherine Clement has termed syncope. Further, I hope to suggest



how the novel’s emphases on the human speaking voice and on flight problematize the construction of identity. Maso's approach to time and perception is similar to Maurice Merleau-Ponty's sense of time as a setting that moves away from us, and perception as a dialogic activity between the seer and the seen, that is, a network of relations. The seeing, touching, surrendering body becomes part of and "vibrates" with what is sensed or perceived (Phenomenology 212). Maso has acknowledged reading The Phenomenology of Perception in her essay "Except Joy: On Aureole" and has described her fiction as an effort to render a "beautiful passing landscape" ("An Essay" 26). Indeed, these fleeting images may appear as disjointed fragments, and not necessarily as parts of a moving, continuous filmstrip. Like Merleau-Ponty, Maso speaks of "[c]reating relations which exist in their integrity for one fleeting moment and then are gone, remaining in the trace of memory" ("An Essay" 27). These "traces of the past do not refer to the past; they are present" (Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology 413). In his work on cinema, Gilles DeLeuze defines “crystal-images" as images that fuse the pastness of the recorded event with the presentness of its viewing, paradoxically exposing the split between the past and the future. The fragmented image is also important to Walter Benjamin. According to Benjamin, we have access to the past primarily through present glimpses of the fleeting images of a "projective past." The present, or "time of the now," is filled with these momentary glimpses of the past, as well as glimpses of the future, or what Benjamin calls "messianic time." In using language to create a choreographed relation of juxtaposed glimpses of time, Maso seeks to redeem the supposedly lost past. According to Benjamin, every present moment contains the possibility of the "strait gate through which the Messiah might enter" (264). Every past moment also can potentially be redeemed on



Judgment Day, and thus, "[n]othing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost for history" (254). In its effort to recover this history, both personal and social, the novel or prose poem AVA goes further than Maso's three previous novels (Ghost Dance, The Art Lover, or The American Woman in the Chinese Hat) in its seamless incorporation of the projective past and messianic time into the present. Rather than the clearly marked, discrete scenes of The Art Lover, AVA uses only three markers—Morning, Afternoon, and Night. Within these sonata-like divisions or movements, the text presents a virtual flood of scenes or impressions without boundaries, in a Bergsonian flux where"[m]emory is no longer the narrative of external adventures stretching along episodic time. It is itself the spiral movement that, through anecdotes and episodes, brings us back to the almost motionless constellation of potentialities that the narrative retrieves" (Ricoeur 182). We read what appear to be random fragments, sentences or an occasional paragraph. What connects these fragments is the "spiral movement" and the "almost motionless constellation of potentialities" that they create. The narrative is focused through Ava's consciousness, yet this internal focalization does not limit the novel to a single or monologic narrative voice. AVA's open structure and multivocality achieves something close to the polyphonic novel's "plurality of irreducible consciousnesses," although poems and lyric novels generally tend toward the monologic (Morson and Emerson 250). Ava thinks or speaks but just as often recalls or hears others speaking, and it is often impossible to fix the identities of the different voices. Many fragments are not Maso’s writing at all but instead quotes from other writers, other texts, presumably writers that Ava Klein, Professor of Comparative Literature at Hunter College, remembers on her dying day (74). The novel's use of textual montage demonstrates Merleau-Ponty's borderless,



reciprocal perception. All time is the present, in the mind, and all the narrative threads are held simultaneously in Ava’s mind. Memory and imagination take us backward into the past and forward into the future while we remain bodied subjects bound by specific locations and temporality: here, a woman on her deathbed. A memory of 20 years ago is followed by yesterday, and so on. Her husbands—Francesco, Carlos, Anatole—as well as her lover Danilo, appear and retreat, as do images of her parents, who survived Treblinka, and her aunt Sophie, who did not. AVA insists on an infinite, inconclusive present, something like Gertrude Stein's "continuous present" of composition (Stein 524). To be able to "see" time, Bakhtin argued, is to see evidence of "heterochrony," the many different rhythms of time, in the present, and to feel everything that pulsates in the present (Morson and Emerson 416-423). Ava's glimpses of the projective past are always immediate, always destabilizing divisions of past, present and future. Ava Klein's death takes place on August 15, 1990, the day of the first or present narrative.1 A Pisces like the author, she is 39, and thus was born in late February or March 1951, but mere dates do not really matter in this book (154). According to Merleau-Ponty, we may be unable to date a memory because often the memory has "lost its anchorage" in the past (Phenomenology 418). More importantly, Ava has been diagnosed with a rare cancer of the blood and is in the hospital receiving treatment that will not save her. Yet the proportion of sentences that refer to events happening on this day is fairly small. Instead, like Granny Weatherall in Katherine Anne Porter’s famous 1930 stream-of-consciousness story, Ava travels in her mind back to the moments that most deeply affected her. Ava's stream-of-consciousness narration goes beyond Granny Weatherall’s complete sentences, paragraphs and distinctions between dialogue and thoughts to create a meditation sustained for 265 pages. And Ava is not limited to remembering experiences she lived, but imagines the lives of others. A bodied subject



limited by the constraints of her own mortality, she resists those constraints through perception, memory and imagination. References to flying abound. Ava and other characters both literally and figuratively fly across time and space. "One longs for. . . the past one never experienced, for the future one will never know—except through an imaginative act" ("An Essay" 26). Ava's ability to imagine these moments is what keeps us reading. AVA refers several times to the artist Joseph Cornell, who tries to "conserve moments of existence in biscuit boxes" (182). Cornell's construction of beautifully decorated boxes is similar to Maso's creation of "luminous moments" ("An Essay" 26). These fragmentary moments compose AVA, a list in three sections. Susan Neville claims that lists are “mystical," that they "annihilate" individual items and create wholes "out of disparate parts,” yet AVA contests both the annihilation of individual items and the creation of a whole (Neville 6). In AVA the fragments remain discrete units that also become part of an accumulation of iterative fragments. Both the text AVA and the character Ava are enigmatic in the Barthesian sense. The narrative teases readers with deferred, potential meanings, the text's hermeneutics leading through partial disclosures, delays, and ambiguities. Much of the novel is given to "repeating narrative," wherein the narrative repeatedly presents an event that happens only once (Genette 115-116). Usually these are repeating "analepses" or "recalls" of past events (51). For example, the scene of Sophie's death at Treblinka is repeated several times, as is the day of Francesco's proposal to Ava. The text thus builds tension through its anachronies, that is, through the discordances between the present narrative and the repeated analepses of the past. Although each repeating analepsis only occurs once in linear time, each recurrence in memory is not only a repetition but also a singular psychic event.



The distinction between a sentence and an utterance is important here. Sentences are repeatable, but each utterance is unique. "Two verbally identical utterances never mean the same thing, if only because the reader or listener confronts them twice and reacts differently the second time" (Morson and Emerson 126). For example, in Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves, sentences such as “[t]he waves broke upon the shore” are repeated many times, and each repetition is both part of a pattern and a singular event. Maso studied Woolf thoroughly while a student at Vassar and has frequently referred to her work in talks and essays. After reading Woolf, Maso began to write "[f]or the first time," not literally, but for the first time in a way that felt natural to her ("Shelter" 6). The structure of AVA is similar to that of The Waves, in that both novels follow a progression from morning until night, but AVA offers greater fragmentation and less temporal consistency within each section. Like Proust and Woolf, Maso is "intoxicated" with the iterative (Genette 123), but her method is less discursive. Even writers who experiment with time have relied to some degree on narrative linearity, at least within chapters or scenes, in which one sentence often leads discursively to the next. In AVA, fragments, sentences and paragraphs frequently interrupt and disrupt one another, defying discursive logic and completion even at the sentence level. The novel's composition in fragments works against its own narrative lines, and is thus closer to the structure of poetry than to chapters. Maso often uses line breaks just as a poet would. "I can usually hear where the line is breaking" (AVA 136). The context surrounding a particular fragment in AVA is never exactly the same, and the meaning is unique to that occurrence, although the repetition of the fragment may appear to suggest a pattern. Characters and plots in AVA are thus constructed poetically, as images and sounds, in patterns somewhat analogous to narrative configurations constructing "significant wholes out of scattered events" (Ricoeur 174). Form is revealed "as patterns are, through elongation and



perspective, the ability to see a whole" (Maso, "An Essay" 26). This wholeness, however, may be impossible to achieve. Maso does not "pretend to understand how disparate sentences and sentence fragments that allow in a large field of voices and subjects, linked to each other quite often by mismatched syntax and surrounded by space for 265 pages, can yield new sorts of meanings and wholeness" ("From AVA" 172). In AVA, even the "completing analepses" that "fill in, after the event, an earlier gap in the narrative," are often incomplete (Genette 51). The analeptic fragments and the space that surrounds them may yield new meanings most notably in demonstrating that completeness, like narrative progression and linear time, is always already illusory. These fragments, like Blanchot’s "unfinished separations,” or like isolated notes or beats, tend to “dissolve the totality” their existence as fragments “presupposes” (Blanchot 5860). As for narrative dissolution, so too for language. Although Neville argues that the motive of list makers is "a love of naming and the way that naming resurrects the thing named,” for Maso, such resurrection is not a given (Neville 11). If one cannot believe that language can save, then how can one write? Ava thinks, "[j]ust once I'd like to save Virginia Woolf from drowning. Hart Crane. Primo Levi from falling . . . Uncle Solly, Aunt Sophie, just once" (20). The novel's silences evoke its hesitation, its syncopated distrust of words even as it limps toward them. Language cannot stop death; it can, however, prolong the moment. "Sometimes, it is given back" (217). Even as Maso reaches for Cixous' language that "heals" rather than "separates," the language itself continually reaches and falls just short (163; 170; 258). This is the language of the desire to heal, not an uncontested faith that language can save. The "necklace of luminous moments" that is a life might be only a fictive necklace, an imagined pattern that unravels itself



on every page (Maso, "An Essay" 26). Yet this unraveling is not necessarily cause for alarm. Ava Klein’s life is lived in an embrace of its own evanescence. Ava, like Scheherezade, tells stories or rather, sings a song, a poem, to "prolong the lyric moment," to postpone death (AVA 210; "An Essay" 28). The singing voice is an important motif in the novel. Maso has at times considered herself a composer. Approaching writing as musical composition allows for the fluidity of fragments, a seamlessness wherein "[i]t's not desirable or possible to keep things separate. Many things arise" ("An Essay" 27). Ava would like to "imagine there was music" throughout her life (AVA 6). "Music moves in me. Shapes I've needed to complete. Listen, listen hard" (7). She refers to a "deepening sense of musical structure" (206). For Roland Barthes, the enigmas of the text are like lines of melody, leading forward and interweaving as in a fugue. Other elements of the text add harmonies and rhythms (Martin 164). In particular, AVA's rhythms depend upon the art of hesitation, or syncope. Syncope, or at least the western version, is music that starts with a weak beat and then prolongs the strong beat. The weak beat can blur into the strong beat, and the strong beat is often held longer than one expects. Every syncopated note is thus what Rousseau called “counter time,” and every collection of syncopated notes is "a movement in counter time" (Clement 254). ). AVA's syncopation both disrupts and prolongs time. Readers are meant to hesitate, to prolong the weak beat. We must take a breath at every break, just as in a line of poetry or of song, because AVA is a movement against linear time, a movement opposing death. Its musical structure is a response to "a deepening sense of loss" (206). In order to hear one singing of "lost things" (25), we must "listen to the music that is silence" (123), we must hear Ava singing "the abyss," as Hélène Cixous would put it (La 59). Readers must feel the syncopating pulse between sounds and silence, presence and absence. The fragments, together with the gaps, the ellipses within the field of



narration, form the syncopated music of the novel. AVA uses rhythm, repetition, and syncopation to create a trance-like, hypnotic state. The first beat in syncope is the beat of hesitation, and the second is that of dissonance, generated by the carrying over of the weak beat "onto the strong beat" (Clement 5). This dissonance creates a "harmonious and productive discord" that is not unlike the discord produced in the achronous tension between narrative and story. Clement is most interested in the "limping before the harmony" that the process of syncope allows (5). This limping is felt in the ellipses of narration or poetic enjambment in AVA. "Suddenly, time falters," and "a fragment of the beat disappears, and of this disappearance, a rhythm is born" (Clement 175; 5). Writing of Woolf's prose style in To the Lighthouse, Maso observed that the sentence describing Mr. Ramsay’s discovery of his wife's death "limps" with grief ("Except Joy" 115). To limp, to falter; this is how Maso approaches time. The music of time in AVA depends upon "[t]he spaces between words. Between thoughts. The interval" (AVA 171). In every space between lines in AVA, a "fragment of the beat" disappears. In each of these spaces there is syncope, disruption, a rupture of linear time. Hiccups, sneezes, bursts of laughter, epileptic seizures, uncontrollable sobs, tremors and sleep apnea are all examples of the syncopic "short circuit" that disrupts time and disconnects us from words and being. So is orgasm (Clement 175). Syncope is a little death, an escape from ordinary time that challenges death through the moment that does not stop. AVA uses rhythm, repetition, and syncopation to create a trance-like, hypnotic state. Rapturous syncope is also like the experience of love at first sight and the eastern blessed state of spiritual ecstasy. "This exceptional moment makes the surrounding world and its harsh laws disappear" (175). Among these "harsh laws" I would place the laws of linear time and narration. By entering "the blessed syncope of supreme moments," poets and other artists or

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mystics escape the confines of these harsh laws and become "free, with an unreal and extraordinary sense of emancipation" (Clement 240). Time falters, and Ava flies through time and space to an earlier moment in another country. The phenomenological world is revealed as "inseparable from subjectivity and intersubjectivity, which find their unity when I either take up my past experiences in those of the present, or other people's in my own" (Merleau-Ponty, "Preface" to Phenomenology xx). Ava's astrological sign (Pisces) associates her with water, indicating her fluid identity and the novel's interest in intersubjectivity. Ava asks, "What is this fluidity I move through?" (117). This fluid shifting of identities also occurs during syncope, when the artist or mystic temporarily loses "the secured identity that constitutes them as a single member of the social body" (Clement 240). In AVA, the stories of Francesco, Anatole, Carlos, Aldo, Danilo, Philip, Rachel, Sophie, Marie-Claude, and Ana Julia are linked and not separable from Ava's own life. Ava not only remembers or imagines these characters; she becomes them. She explores different identities with each of her lovers and husbands. Masks, costumes, wigs, and human hair, together with Ava's travels, are associated with intersubjectivity and the performance of identity. The line "Ava Klein with her peacock tail, her usual bravada" (120) both suggests a fixed identity (her usual bravada) and contests monolithic identity at the same time. The peacock tail, like the "feather headdress" she sometimes wears (6) allows her to become different Avas for different occasions. She recontextualizes herself and allows herself to be defined in reciprocal relation with others. While it is generally assumed that representations of space have emphasized the exteriority, and representations of time the interiority, of the subject, as Elizabeth Grosz has suggested, in AVA, time and space often reverse exteriority and interiority. Hélène Cixous and others have shown that when we travel to foreign countries, we are really going toward what is foreign in ourselves.2 Ava's fluency in several different languages

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parallels the fluidity of the speaking subject. Ultimately, of course, traveling to a foreign country can lead to death, as Turner and others have shown. Thus Ava finds herself in her "thirty-ninth year on a foreign coast," that is, the coast of the country of death (205). Though Ava lies dying in a hospital bed, she enters the blessed syncope of supreme moments and escapes the confines of her wasted body. It is also true that Ava cannot escape except through her body. The phenomenological world of her perception is composed of bodily, often erotic sensations. Ava's time, like Proustian time, inscribes the body in language. The disease that is coursing through her blood is the counterpoint to her own desire to cross boundaries. In order to appreciate the music of specific moments in AVA, it is not necessary to understand exactly the linear plots of the stories or fabula that these moments help to compose. Indeed, there is good reason to resist the temptation to "construct" the stories behind the narrative. One does not wish to foreclose the text's plurality. As Barthes said, "everything signifies ceaselessly and several times, but without being delegated to a great final ensemble, an ultimate structure" (11-12). Maso describes AVA as a novel that "will always be a work in progress . . . a book in a perpetual state of becoming. It cannot be stabilized or fixed," but "could be written forever, added to or subtracted from in a kind of Borgesian infinity" (Maso, "From AVA" 172). AVA is part of a trilogy that Maso is writing. The second novel in the trilogy, Bay of Angels, will take place a few years prior to 1990, when Ava received bone marrow infusions from her mother. Because the trilogy is still being written, the dates of certain events in AVA may not always be consistent with references in the other books. The events themselves may change as Maso rewrites them. The beauty of the novel as genre is that there is "no first word" and the "final word has not been spoken" (Bakhtin 30), and this is especially true in the case of AVA as part of an unfinished trilogy. Despite this caution regarding the changing nature of the work, it

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may be helpful to understand some distinct narrative threads in AVA insofar as they open further avenues of association and interrelatedness. The remaining sections of this essay will discuss each of the multiple threads of narration in turn and will clarify certain aspects of Ava's provisional, temporal identity, although I do not wish to claim that "fixing" such an identity should be our aim. Rather, the novel emphasizes the instability not only of linear plots but also of limiting notions of subjectivity. Ava's character is as multiple, fluid, and open-ended as the many separate moments she remembers or imagines.

I. Treblinka, "a musical word" Ava Klein (1951-1990) is the only child of Philip and Rachel Klein, who survived Treblinka. Ava has now lost her hair and thus resembles the prisoners at Treblinka (34). Treblinka was an "extermination camp" built in 1942 approximately 50 miles northeast of Warsaw by the Nazis. Most estimates suggest that more than 800,000 people died there. Rachel's only sister, Sophie, did not survive, shot to death at the edge of a pit into which many bodies fell (AVA 72). Rachel's parents, as well as her brother, Sol, who wore the pink triangle that homosexuals were forced to wear, died there. Ironically, Treblinka is "a rather musical word" (AVA 32; 62). The prisoners "still had Schubert in their throats" (59). Rachel may have survived because of her singing voice. She was the only woman who had enough to eat. The soldiers kept her "plump" to protect her voice (60). They made her sing for them and also made her undress. Now, on her dying day, Ava remembers seeing her mother undress in her childhood. Her mother "[w]ho gave me life./ Continues to give me life. I watch her undress over and over./ In the dark./ In the German forest./ For them./ Over and over she sang a beautiful song. While my father looked on/ The wind taking away their

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sounds" (155). Young Philip Klein plays the cello to accompany Rachel's singing, and he falls in love with her (157). Whereas at first, music was "the love of" Rachel's life, in Treblinka music literally became "her life" (156). Here, as in The Art Lover, Maso links singing with survival. A recurring reference throughout The Art Lover is the gay anthem "We Are Gentle, Angry People" with its refrain, "We are singing for our lives." For Rachel and Philip at Treblinka, "music saved their lives" (92). Ava imagines her “parents singing the world into existence for themselves./ Prolonging the world with song" (76). Yet also linked with singing, with the artistic impulse, is the writer's anxiety as to the power of art, words, or music to save. This doubt finds its way into the form of AVA through syncopation's hesitation, its gasps between beats. Ava thinks of how her parents "sang" her into life, and she hopes that they will stand at her bedside "singing me gently into death" (143). Aunt Sophie's "beautiful voice could not save her life" (162), possibly because Sophie was "no longer young then" (96), whereas Rachel was only 15 (49). "Only I was spared" (149). Sophie, according to Maso, is pregnant when she is killed, and because she is "not in her right mind," she imagines that her baby will somehow survive her death.3 She asks the survivors to name the child for her (183). After Sophie is killed, Rachel experiences survivor's guilt (35; 148-149). Later, Ava imagines that she herself bore a child as the result of a one-night stand and named the baby after her dead Aunt Sophie (234). Of Ava 's many brief sexual encounters, one was with a man named Franz Muller. It occurs to Ava that "you could have been one of them," meaning he could have been one of the Nazi soldiers who watched her mother undress. If she had married Franz, Ava would have become "Frau Muller" (36). She is fascinated by his possible complicity in her aunt's death and her mother's exploitation. To bear his child and name her Sophie would be one way of rewriting the tragic ending of her aunt's story.

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Ava is constantly imagining beginnings, middles and ends throughout the novel. As she constructs the story, the song cycle, of her life, she is also constructing cycles of history. The Treblinka story involved her parents a few years before she was born, yet Ava imagines she is there. Complicity and powerlessness are a recurring concern in these cycles. At Treblinka, Jews, homosexuals, and gypsies were exterminated simply because of their racial, ethnic, or sexual identities. Such persecution continues in many forms. In Ava's elaborate song cycles, Aldo, Bernard, and Andrew are linked with Uncle Sol as homosexuals who die too young due to outright extermination or smug indifference to the AIDS epidemic. Treblinka and World War II are linked with the Gulf War in a world where music (and language) cannot, apparently, save us. The image of Samuel Beckett hiding in a tree from German soldiers and hearing a song sung by Ava's mother at Treblinka, is repeated several times. Beckett's famous silence, his years of not writing, is evoked throughout AVA and linked to the unspeakable destruction of war and other evils that writing cannot avert. Beckett turned to music, practicing Chopin Etudes until his friends teased him (87). Like Beckett, Maso searches for a form that explores the silences of language.

II. Aldo Santini: "building cathedrals with his voice" Ava grew up in upstate New York, where her father, Philip, tended a beautiful garden and her mother, Rachel, eventually did sing again, children's songs (61). Ava's first love was Bernard Reznikoff, a young student who wished to become a doctor and who later does (75; 92). He dies of AIDS (or Kaposi's sarcoma) while trying to find a cure (66).4 Ava is something of a child prodigy. Like her mother, she has a beautiful singing voice, and at the age of sixteen, goes to Parma, Italy, to study opera at the Puccini Institute (175). There she meets Aldo Santini, son of

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Anthony and Louisa Santini (171). Aldo is important for many reasons. Like Bernard, Aldo is one of the few men in the novel with whom Ava apparently does not have sex. More important, Aldo, a gifted tenor, was "building cathedrals with his voice" (21, 75). He was a boy who drew ladders in an effort to reach heaven, ladders "going nowhere, maybe" (5, 19, 83).5 Aldo's passion for music and his desire for a connection with the sacred reflects Ava's desire to believe in the agency of the subject and the power of human expression to make a difference. Aldo's singing is the kind of language that might "heal" rather than "separate" (163; 258). Aldo becomes renowned and travels far (236), though he is frequently in New York and visits Ava there. The beautiful "remote chorus of boys" that Aldo hears becomes a kind of homosexual siren song (22; 75; 236). Ava also hears this chorus. The heterosexual woman and the gay man share an erotic desire that is vividly evoked in a scene wherein Aldo encourages Ava to seduce a young man that Aldo also desires. One of many examples of intersubjectivity in the novel, this scene takes place in Paris at a dinner party sometime after the death of Ava's second husband, Anatole (50-51; 238-239). Like Bernard, unfortunately, Aldo dies of AIDS, at the age of 35 (9; 44). Ava never quite recovers from his death. His voice, like Aunt Sophie's, did not save him. Yet Ava loved him for that voice, for his desire to build a cathedral, his effort to link the desire of the body with heaven. One definition of "chorus" is a body of singers who perform choral compositions, but another definition is "a simultaneous utterance by many voices" (American Heritage 156). The question here is that of merging. A chorus may sometimes sing the same words, the same notes, simultaneously. Yet many voices can sing without merging, as in the polyphonic singing of Georgian folk music. Bakhtin privileges the polyphonic in his theory of the novel. Aldo and Ava both dream of a "remote"—unattainable—"chorus of boys," a chorus wherein the voices both merge and do not merge. Ava's three husbands are such a remote chorus

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of boys in the novel. Distinct characters who married her at different times, their utterances were not simultaneous, yet Ava hears them as if the song they are all singing is now a polyphonic, continuous present. Ava seeks to recover Aldo in her memory, just as Aldo and she were "prolonging the world with song" (236). In the blessed syncope of supreme moments, Ava not only postpones her own death, but resists the deaths of Bernard and Aldo. Syncope "deceives death," Clement writes, "in all ways. By delaying the weak beat, excessively prolonging time, and by making it disappear subjectively, it pretends to delay progress toward the biological conclusion" (261). So the novel AVA deceives death, prolonging the world "excessively" with song on this final day. Aldo's last lover is a young composer named Andrew, who has also tested positive for the AIDS virus (AVA 200). It is Andrew who tells Ava, "you are a poet in your blood" (59) and with whom she composes an actual erotic song cycle that is performed in Rome (92). The AIDS virus and the poetry in her blood are linked to the rare blood disease that is now killing her. The musical enactment of the struggle between life and death, syncope "'attacks' the weak beat, like an enzyme, a wildcat, or a virus; and yet the last beat is the saving one. . ." (Clement 5). The "saving" aspect of the final strong beat, the last word, the triumphant end of a narrative that will redeem itself with meaning, is what we are waiting to hear. Yet by the end of AVA, readers are still suspended, waiting for the last strong beat. Viruses are lurking. The song cycle never ends. Like Aldo, Ava is building a cathedral with her voice, or rather, with the chorus of voices of which she is a part. She does not become an opera singer, perhaps because she discovers that her talent is not as outstanding as Aldo's, yet she embraces words and language by becoming a scholar of comparative literature. The words of operas, poems, and novels become a part of her

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as she conducts a chorus of voices rather than a solo or monologue, constructing a cathedral in words, or what Julia Kristeva calls "the cathedral of memory we call art" (152).

III. Francesco Guilini: "if you die" Ava leaves Parma after two or three years to study comparative literature, possibly at the University of Genoa in 1970, and definitely in Rome by 1971, when she is twenty. Rome is where she meets the first of her three husbands, Francesco Guilini, an Italian director not unlike Federico Fellini. Both first names begin with F, and their last names rhyme. The marriage ends in divorce because neither he nor Ava could remain faithful. Yet Ava still has strong feelings for him. The Francesco story is a mixed analepsis, because Ava's relationship with him began long before the present narrative, yet extends into the present (Genette 49). Francesco is a balding yet curlyheaded filmmaker of forty, twenty years older than Ava. They meet in Rome while Francesco is making a film of Dante's Inferno, and this is part of the attraction (AVA 12; 31). Ava is studying literature, and Francesco is bringing one of her (and Maso's) beloved works to the screen. Francesco is the only husband for whom Ava sings, possibly because she meets him soon after her operatic studies have ended, and possibly because he makes a film of Puccini's Madame Butterfly. Francesco is mentioned on the first page of the novel in a recurring fragment: "You spoke of Trieste. Of Constantinople. You pushed the curls from your face" (3). On the next page begins the first of many repetitions of the line "He bounded up the sea-soaked steps" (4). Francesco bounded up those steps on the day he proposed to Ava in Venice in 1976. A fuller version of the story, a "completing analepsis" that fills in some of the gaps, occurs later. It was Christmas Eve day. He has brought her "the fruits of the sea" and lays these "jewels of the sea" at her feet. "The green light of the lighthouse, snow on the beach. . . .Will you marry me?" (243;

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see also 38). This day was one of the most important in Ava's life, a moment of syncope that does not stop. She returns to it again and again in her mind on the day of her death. Throughout the novel, images of Ava and Francesco recur. They spend their honeymoon on Crete (3, 12, 211). They were sexually compatible and their time together was beautiful to Ava (127, 128; 190). He views her as Beatrice to his Dante (35). With Francesco, she learns to try on different selves. Francesco loved masked balls and taught Ava to dress up in different costumes for sex (128). Then and now, he brings her turbans and wigs—emblems of the performed self. Later, when he is working on a film titled War Requiem, he sends Ava a helmet. They both construct identities through performances. In addition to their love of opera, they love to celebrate everything "with verve," including saints' days and other holidays (3). Ava celebrates Catholic holidays with Francesco because she finds his joyful exuberance attractive. Like many concentration camp survivors, Ava's parents were often silent, so damaged by their experience that they did not discuss it much and did not observe religious practices or holidays very passionately. Unlike the effusive Francesco, Ava's traumatized mother could not bring herself even to sing for years, and her father was terrified of a simple game of hide and seek. When Ava marries Francesco, she is attracted to Catholicism's pageantry, music and ritual performances.6 The marriage does not last, both because her intelligence diminished her beauty in his eyes and because they had met their matches and could not be faithful to one another (69; 72-73). Yet they are still the "best of friends" who understand one another's need to be free (69). Their "promiscuity. . . .suited our interior multiplicity" (176). He visits her in New York. She remembers a day in Chinatown when Francesco was happy because he had obtained both the financing and the lead actress he wanted for his next film. He takes Ava's hand and tells her he loves her. Outside, in the street, the scene is reminiscent of William Carlos Williams' early

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poems, such as "The Great Figure": "rain, a yellow taxi cab. I love you" (AVA 6). The moment of the "I love you" is always fleeting, like the fire truck in the rain in Williams' poem;7 yet Ava relives many such blessed moments with Francesco. Her relationship with Francesco is filled not only with intense moments of syncope but also with a seamless collage of films, books, and other people. Yet despite the apparent freedom of their "interior multiplicity" and their performances of multiple identities, there is no escaping history. Francesco's wigs are linked to the shaved heads of the prisoners at Treblinka and the piles of human hair (34; 245). Bald herself now, Ava feels no separation between her present moment in 1990 and the past lived by others at Treblinka in 1942. The story of Treblinka, the present day in the hospital, and Francesco's love for her are all part of Ava's construction of identity. Despite her attraction to the rituals of Francesco's Catholicism, Ava remains a Jew. The memory of Francesco evokes beautiful moments of desire, but Ava also realizes that death was part of that desire. "We are racing toward death, Francesco. We knew it even then," despite "our unstoppable bodies, our optimism" (84; 65). As she comes to terms with her own dying, it is to Francesco that she imagines speaking the words: "I am dying, maybe" (23, 63, 68). The caesura in that line reveals the naked power of the words, and Ava's resistance to their finality adds the "maybe." It is not herself that she is trying to reassure by adding the "maybe"; rather, it is Francesco who needs reassurance, despite his large Roman hands and his mature age (he is almost 60 now). Francesco cannot imagine a world without Ava in it. He also insists on the power of faith. He baptized her "long ago" during the night while she slept because "if you parted . . . if you died" (87). There is "a thin man Francesco insists can rise" (183). Ava imagines that Francesco "baptizes me again and again with tears and holy water from Rome, because, if you die" (184). Francesco appears to visit Ava as she is dying and asks her to marry him again

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(242). He makes "desperate promises I surely would never have otherwise heard: if you live—" (106). In these incomplete sentences, in what Francesco can't say, we understand much. Ava imagines or recalls telling him in a letter, "Much is expressed in the interval. Do not worry so much about our silences when they come. I hear you even then" (248). She knows that he is weeping "off-screen" for her (233). She wants Francesco with her at the end of her life, to take her hand, to "pull the infamous plug, if necessary" because he was the great love of her life (242). She imagines that Francesco tells her "there is a lovely almond tablet on my tongue. By the time it has dissolved, I am in heaven./ Stop scaring me./ Ava Klein goes to heaven?" (106) The tablet echoes the "burnt almonds" and other dolci she once enjoyed with Francesco, but even then something "was conspiring against" them, and this almond tablet tastes like cyanide (4). The line, "Stop scaring me" is ambiguous. Francesco is frightened of her death, but Ava wants Francesco to stop scaring her with the idea of a Christian heaven. As a Jew, she believes in the miracle of this earth. When she and Francesco were in Venice, they walked "on water" although it was only "for one night" (110, 112, 184). This is enough, for Ava. "And I am happy for any of this. That we lived at all" (83). For Jews generally, belief in the "here," not in the "hereafter," is crucial. Although modern Jews do tend to view the soul as immortal, their primary concern is not with preparing for heaven but with celebrating life and with tikkun, or repairing the world. Ava "came to celebrate. To praise" (208). She seeks Cixous' "language that heals as much as it separates" (52) as a way of repairing the world.

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IV. Anatole Forget: "Flying" While Francesco appears in both the past and the present, the analeptic story of Anatole, Ava's second husband, remains external, because he has died several years before the present narrative. The marriage to Francesco ends by 1979, and Ava marries Anatole in 1980. Anatole is the son of a World War I French fighter pilot who served bravely and who went mad as a result of post-traumatic stress (an echo, perhaps, of Virginia Woolf's character Septimus Smith in Mrs. Dalloway). His father later commits suicide (in the same manner as Woolf). Anatole's father was thirty-five years older than Marie Claude, Anatole's mother (135). Marie-Claude did not marry out of love, but duty. Later, Marie-Claude has a lifelong lesbian relationship with a British woman named Emma, and this relationship takes on great importance in the novel despite the relatively few references to it. Anatole reacts nervously to lesbianism. Ava meets him after she has left Italy and gone to France to "continue my work on Sarraute, Duras, Wittig, Cixous. This made him nervous and we were married" (160). Anatole wanted "nothing to do with" the book Ava is writing on the great French women writers of the Twentieth Century. "He was unhappy even about Colette, a dead woman" (144). Anatole is "vague," "lonely" and "beautiful" (131; 142). He tells Ava that she has no idea what it is like to see your father in a straitjacket. His mad father and his mother's lesbianism may explain his nervousness about masculinity and femininity, and thus his hasty marriage to Ava, undertaken, apparently, in an effort to distract her from her true object in France, that of lesbian desire. Anatole's last name, ironically, is Forget. "I was Madame Forget. For awhile" (131). Of course she does not "forget" anything. She recalls a few precious moments of syncope, such as carving their names at the tomb of Mary Magdalen at St. Maximin La Sainte

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Baume in Provence (157). Ava also goes with Anatole to Carnaval, the winter festival, in "La Belle Province," another name for Quebec City, Canada. "'Ava Klein,' Anatole smiles, petting my feather headdress. 'You are a rare bird.' La Belle Province. 1980. Carnaval" (45). This is apparently where he proposes to her during late January or early February 1980, just before she turns 29. They marry in Paris (81). She takes him to New York for a visit, where he is determined not to be impressed, comparing Harlem to the Place Pigalle in Paris (104) with its thriving jazz clubs and its African-American community. He is "disappointed" because he doesn't see heroin addicts and hear sirens and gunshots in Harlem (104). A melancholy, nervous yet proud Frenchman, it is as though Anatole expects the world to disappoint him. Later, Ava becomes pregnant. This, too, produces odd reactions in Anatole, who is frightened by Ava's "swollen breasts and belly" (237). Anatole is a pilot like his father, and his cynicism, partially in response to his father's madness, leads to a kind of devil-may-care recklessness. He leaves Ava to go on solitary journeys. His disappearance is ambiguous. She remembers that he spoke "only once, and in a whisper, of freedom and how much you needed the sky and good-bye” (20). She recalls how he looked "just before he put on his flying suit and waved good-bye" (29). Anatole goes to the island of El Tigre off the coast of Honduras. El Tigre is a volcanic island with great accumulations of ash, and Ava associates ashes with Anatole (131).8 He is "unfrightened" when he frees himself "from the mystery that was his life. Flying" (142). He is supposedly flying over France when he disappears for good, "lost in the air in his one truly hopeful, joyful act" (131) by 1982 or 1983. Ava thinks of him, hidden from her in his "cloak of clouds" (29). She understands his need to be free, but she wishes that he had not disappeared: "Faire une autre chose, Anatole" (112, 144). Ava also loses the baby (81, 151; 237).

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The loss of this baby haunts her throughout the novel: one of her few regrets is not having a child. More important than her marriage to Anatole Forget is Ava's relationship with his mother, Marie-Claude. "It was your mother and her lover, Emma, whom I could not give up, never give up" (36). Ava continues her close friendship with Marie-Claude and Emma after Anatole's death (75). Perhaps as a parallel to her love of French women writers, Ava encounters in Marie-Claude a living example of feminine autonomy. Marie-Claude is also a widow who is not defined by her widowhood and thus a kind of model for Ava. Mother, widow, lesbian: Marie-Claude cannot be reduced to any narrow identity. There is nothing foreign to Ava in Marie-Claude's lesbianism. While Ava regrets not having had a child, her other main regret is that she did not act on the lesbian desire she experienced once while in Rome, when a beautiful woman visited her in Maria Regina's kitchen. Ava "could not keep my eyes off of" her. The woman says in English. "I am ravishing," instead of "ravenous" or "famished," and laughs at her mistake. Ava wanted to tell the woman that she was indeed "ravishing," but did not, and instead merely blushed and looked down at her shoes (80). Years later, when she meets Marie-Claude and Emma, Ava understands more about lesbian desire and realizes that it, too, could be part of her constructed identity. "Why was it I hesitated?" Ava asks herself now, on her deathbed (80). Ava associates the expression of lesbian desire with joy and with female agency. Ava admires Marie-Claude's ability to affirm and celebrate life despite tragedy. She empowered women during the war by teaching them to drive motorcycles—an image of mobility and freedom (68; 106). And Marie-Claude created a new life for herself with Emma. Ava is about to visit them when she is suddenly hospitalized. At the end of her life Ava imagines recovering and flying to the hopeful Marie-Claude (237-238). Like Anatole, Ava would become free by flying. She

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announces that this song she sings on the day of her death, this novel, is for Marie-Claude, Emma and Anatole. "This is for you, Marie-Claude and Emma. This is for you, my dear troubled Anatole" (52). She dedicates her last thoughts to them because she "could not at the time get to you" (133). These thoughts must serve as a partial legacy in place of the baby she and Anatole lost."These stories are for you, Marie-Claude, who, after the earth and its creatures, loves nothing more than the future" (67). Marie-Claude reinvented herself and chose happiness when she had the chance, and, like Ava, has not given up on repairing the world. Ava will not "forget" Anatole, just as she cannot "forget" anything or anyone she has loved, just as she cannot "forget" the stories her parents have told her about their experiences during the Holocaust. Her memory is often the memory of trauma, of sudden or shocking loss, and repetitive post-traumatic symptoms can be intergenerational (Brown 108). The distinction between traumatic memory and narrative memory is helpful in approaching AVA. Traumatic memory, the emotional re-experiencing of a traumatic event, is a solitary activity, "inflexible and invariable" and with "no social component; it is not addressed to anybody" (Van Der Kolk and Van Der Hart 163). But narrative memory is a social act, and in it the telling of the story can be adapted to present circumstances. The fragmentary, syncopic, repetitive, dream-like structure of AVA may create the illusion of traumatic memory's characteristic isolation, but Ava herself is always imagining an audience, always addressing her fragments to someone. She cannot imagine herself existing alone; she is part of a network of relations.

V. Carlos: "I Want You Never To Die" Ava's third husband was Carlos, a much younger man, whose story forms another external analepsis.9 The analepsis is proleptic, because Carlos foresees Ava's death in a dream

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before he meets her. Just as she met Anatole while in search of French writers, she meets Carlos when she travels to Granada, Spain, to retrace the steps of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca (82). She is searching for "a certain lost aspect" of Lorca, whose line "green. I want you green" she repeats frequently (127). She thinks Lorca would have liked Carlos, this "beautiful and carefree boy" who dances the flamenco (82; 125). At thirty-three, Ava experiences a "throbbing, a sexual awakening " (120). She refers to "blood-soaked" afternoons, her "blood-red" wedding dress and other images of red or bloody intensity with Carlos (120). Granada means "pomegranate," the red fruit. They are wedded "after a glance" (72; 120; 128; 209), traveling from Granada to Barcelona for the wedding (81). The date is in late February or early March 1984. Soon after marrying him, Ava finds that Carlos is not only possessed by a "mysterious grief"; he is a person of "mute violence" who is "savage" and "doomed" as he proceeds to involve Ava in sadomasochistic sex (120). In sharp contrast to the expressive, creative Francesco, Carlos is unable to express himself except through suffering. He communicates with Ava primarily through sex, making her feel alive by feeling pain. "For months you cried./ And tied me to the bed./ And fucked me in every broken-down villa./ And lit candles. And prayed to Saint Jude." He dresses Ava in leather and gags and blindfolds her, all because he wants her "never to die" (209). She remembers every sexual act, every moment with him and understands the connection between pleasure and pain because of Carlos. "Pointed cactus that we bled by. Stop. Never stop./ Somehow, Carlos, you always knew. /Your conviction to live. To bleed. To sing" (159). For Carlos, singing requires bleeding, and for a while Ava seems to have agreed with him. Her marriage to Carlos not only follows the death of Anatole, but also occurs close to the time of Aldo's death. Carlos is an appropriate partner for someone suffering from depression.

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Ava appears to have repressed the loss of Anatole and of the baby, becoming truly "Madame Forget" so that she could survive and taking on another melancholy lover in an eerie repetition of the traumatic event. In order to remember, we must first forget, or repress that which is unbearable. Because we forget, we repeat the trauma, and finally, through the repetition, we remember. With Carlos, Ava explores a side of herself that is important to know but that represents only one aspect of her fluid identity. Still haunted by the loss of Anatole's baby, she imagines a child with Carlos, a child that would have been a mixture of many different blood lines: "Andalusian, Arab and Hebrew, Jew, Moor, and Gypsy" (128). As a native of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in Spain, Carlos has Andalusian, Arab, and Moorish blood, in contrast to Ava's Hebrew, Jewish, and Gypsy blood. Both Moors and Jews were persecuted in this part of Spain. In the spring of 1492, shortly after the Moors were driven out of Granada, so were the Jews, ending one of the largest and most distinguished Jewish settlements in Europe. It is ironic that Ferdinand and Isabella, who drove the Moors and the Jews out of Granada, also funded Christopher Columbus's voyage to America, the land to which Ava Klein's parents would emigrate after being persecuted by the Nazis four centuries later. Part of Ava's fascination with Carlos is another of her many efforts to construct a network of relations that rewrites history. But Ava realizes that it would be a mistake to have a child in a marriage wherein one partner was so addicted to suffering. Perhaps because of the suffering her parents lived through in Treblinka, Ava, who refers to herself as a "gypsy" and "a wandering Jew," does not share Carlos' tragically self-destructive streak (81). She "came to celebrate," after all (208). She tells him that "all along I have just wanted to live" (209). She has never wanted to suffer (57-58). After a brief marriage, lasting from 1984 until perhaps 1986, Ava leaves Carlos because she can no longer bear to be with him. "Your mood changes, Carlos, and in a moment what was

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sunny and bright and endless days without worry or care is suddenly black, fearsome, irrevocable night" (226-227). Ava also said horrible things to him (209). In leaving him, she experiences a kind of joy. "In Spain, in a golden square, she sang for joy, as she let him go./ Handed him back his crown of thorns. His leash. His too short leash" (60). The crown of thorns and his prayers to Saint Jude indicate Carlos' addiction to a religion of suffering. His violent possessiveness, signaled by the "too short" leash,10 doomed their short marriage. She stays in touch with him primarily regarding Ana Julia, his maternal grandmother (40). By 1988, Ava is back in France dancing with another man, and enjoying Carnival in Rio de Janeiro alone or with a new lover (6; 19; 45).11 Forgiving Carlos and herself, she imagines him at her deathbed and says there is "[n]othing to regret now. Not even the child we kept putting off, Carlos" (130; 35). Just as she formed a strong friendship with Anatole's mother, Marie-Claude, so Ava remembers Ana Julia, a puppeteer, an entertainer, with her two assistants (39). Ana Julia's imaginative performances and dreams are related to the novel's emphasis on memory, dream, identity and intersubjectivity. Like Ava, Ana Julia is gypsy-like, traveling from village to village, giving her performances. This mobility and freedom is important to both women. Ava imagines that Ana Julia's death may have taken place on the same day that Ava received the results of her own blood tests (32). Like Anatole, Ana Julia "flies" on the day of her death. After dreaming one night that her maid was stealing her blue satin wedding shoes, Ana Julia woke up "and flew down the street after her. . .like some great bird" because "where she was going, she needed those shoes" (31-32). The next day, probably sometime in 1988, Ana Julia dies at the age of 95.12 Ava imagines the relatives and villagers grieving. Like Ana Julia, like Anatole, Ava, too, is flying. "I can see it all from here"— from her deathbed, in her mind (9). Throughout the novel

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Maso juxtaposes the flying imagination against reminders of the limits of ordinary, linear time, or other limits, such as the image of Carlos' leash.

VI. Danilo Hanel: "Just say the words" Danilo Hanel, a Czech novelist who escaped the Russians when he was twelve, is more capable than any of her husbands when it comes to facing death. He is the one who goes with her to the Dana Farber "Fancy Cancer" Institute in Boston (180). He reminds her that the present is indeed the only time they have: "what is wrong with now?" (87, 88, 190). Danilo Hanel is a novelist, who, like Ava, faces the limits of language and form. She has "saved his hopeful country for last" (45). Trapped in her deathbed, her body wasting away, Ava feels peaceful and free. Danilo has been searching for a similar freedom as an artist, a search that parallels his desire for Ava. Traveling from Europe to join her, he insists on speaking to Ava in person now, because a disembodied letter would not suffice. "I love you, Ava Klein. I have come many kilometers to tell you this in person" (212). When she asks, "[b]ut Danilo, how can I marry you now?" he replies, "[j]ust say the words out loud" (176). Danilo's advice to "say the words" in marrying him is the most powerful affirmation the book offers. Danilo marries her, or tries to, on the day of her death, fully aware that it is the day of her death. In speaking the words of the marriage rite, Ava would be constructing a new identity, that of an Ava Hanel who can come into existence through language. Yet the text is ambiguous as to whether Ava speaks the words "I do" in response to Danilo. Throughout the novel Ava reenacts the marriage to Francesco. The full account of Francesco's proposal is followed by a space, and then the line, "I will" (243). Readers assume that this "I will" refers to her acceptance of Francesco's proposal on Christmas Eve day in 1976. And in a different context, when the line,

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"Yes, I will. I do. I kiss you one thousand times," immediately follows a space and line referring to Danilo, it is tempting to believe that Ava says yes to Danilo (250). Such a logic of utterance and context frequently seems to be at work. The novel, however, cautions against the tendency to find meaning in such patterns. "Two Germanys become one. In a graveyard in France Jewish skeletons are dug up and hung to blow in the breeze. Putting these two sentences next to each other as I have doesn't necessarily mean anything" (74). This statement both rejects meaning and affirms the desire for meaning—a disturbing effect indeed, implying that the gruesome atrocities and traumas of the past may literally recur, and not just in memory. Even as the text denies responsibility for this meaning, the troubling potential for meaning remains. Such is the text's ambivalence. If we heed the warning to avoid reading adjacent sentences as related (utterances in their contexts), we cannot know for sure whether Ava says the words "I do" out loud to Danilo. When she says, "Maybe not right now," we still hope that she might say yes in another moment (202). We cannot help but "struggle to make meaning./ Where maybe there is none" (229). Ava must "say the words" of the novel as well, because the perceiving subject must bear witness, must both look at and speak of what he or she sees. A writer, Danilo understands all too well the abstractions of words and time. He repeatedly says that he will make "no apologies" for the experimental form of his novels. "And what has been left mysterious or unexplained is so because it is unknowable" (125). He asserts the freedom of the artist to disobey conventions, those harsh laws of form. AVA refers to many other writers and includes their voices in quotations throughout the novel. Borges, Goethe, Ingeborg Bachmann, Hélène Cixous, Samuel Beckett, Primo Levi, Rilke, Gertrude Stein, Monique Wittig, Virginia Woolf—the list goes on and on. Writing is also explored through the trope of flying. Primo Levi, Beckett and others fly. Ultimately, the images of flying are linked to death. When Ava imagines she sees Anatole "in

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full flying regalia," she tells him, "But I'm not ready, Anatole" (108). Toward the end of the novel she thinks or says aloud, "Today I feel as if I might fly" and then is either told or tells herself, "You pick an odd time to feel like a bird, Ava Klein" (205). Indeed, death, or "the birdcatcher," is "near" and Ava can no longer imagine herself surviving (215; 182). Referred to as "a rare bird" by Anatole and others, Ava (rara avis) is like the Topaz Bird in Ghost Dance and many birds named as abominable in the harsh laws of that master narrative, the Bible. Many birds, including the eagle, the nighthawk, the owl and the vulture, as well as the stork, the pelican, and the heron, are named as “unclean” in the Bible. Hélène Cixous associates women and writing with this abomination. "Those who belong to the birds and their kind (these may include some men), to writings and their kind: they are all to be found . . . outside; in a place that is called by Those Bible, those who are the Bible, Abominable" (Three Steps 113). The abominable is always excluded from the master discourse, yet flies toward a language that "heals" as much as it "separates." Like Danilo, the abominable will make no apologies as it flies toward new forms. One way it flies is through syncope.

Conclusion: Flying, Syncope and the Reader Ava’s identity and the text’s meaning is always just beyond the grasp of words, although I have attempted to show that the novel's intersecting plots are accessible. Within the present narrative, Ava notices larger historical events. She is aware of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the American response. Her dying day takes place thirteen days after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and ten days after the American president, George Bush, has drawn his "line in the sand" (AVA 139; 143). Although the novel is ambivalent in its approach to patterns, the Gulf War is related to other wars in Ava's mind. She thinks of her parents in Treblinka during 1942-1943 and

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of women of different races and ethnicities in history who opposed war and resisted oppression (251, 259, 263). The Iroquois women of 1600 who refused sex, the Filipino women standing in front of tanks, the South African women who knelt and prayed in front of the police all performed these deeds as bodied subjects resisting war and aggression. Limited by the constraints of their time and place in history, they responded out of what can only be described as hope and a belief in the future. The American president is part of a hegemonic discourse of extermination against those perceived to be "other." Drawing a line in the sand is one of many images of division in the novel, including chopped off hair, the leash, and the Berlin Wall: "[h]ome, before it was divided" (21). In contrast are images erasing or crossing lines. If someone is foolish enough to draw a line in the sand, then the sands of national and individual identities will shift, as will the rules of narrative. These shifting sands can illuminate the continuity between superficially distinct selves, countries, worlds. Ava flies in her mind just as she has always flown across oceans and continents to encounter different aspects of herself. She is not only "rare" but is also a "molting bird" (64). A Jew, she has married Catholic husbands. She has slept with many men, including, potentially, a Nazi. She has loved her husbands' mothers and grandmothers. She has journeyed to Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Canada, yet only at the end of her life is she ready for Eastern Europe, where her parents are from. Germany itself she saved for last in her series of literary pilgrimages. This avoidance of spaces that resonate with her parents' traumas comes to mind when Ava asks, "What is this melancholy melody I have tried my whole life to keep at bay?" (162). It is the "irresistible music of the end" (174). In flying, she is moving into the realm of the dead, where she sees Anatole, Aldo, Bernard, Aunt Sophie, Uncle Sol, Ana Julia, and others. But this music of the end is neither tragic nor pessimistic. Finally, in her dreams on her dying day, she enters

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into a new relation with life and death. Like Dante, who wrote the Divine Comedy as a dream vision, Ava tries to stop time by creating a "pure simultaneity" with no division between past, present, and future (Bakhtin 158). Yet unlike Dante, she will fail, or will not quite succeed, and in this failure, or this partial success, lies much of the novel's power. Dante's characters sought to escape the perfect but static, vertical hierarchy he had created for them and, to enter, like Ava, "mortal time" (AVA 212). The source of tension in Dante, Bakhtin said, is the "struggle between living historical time and the extratemporal other-worldly ideal . . .There is a contradiction, an antagonism between the form-generating principle of the whole and the historical and temporal form of its separate parts" (158). In AVA, the separate stories retain their temporal form, as I have tried to demonstrate, yet they also exist as part of an extratemporal pattern that is always already unraveling. The cathedral of memory that Ava builds in her dream vision is an open structure without hierarchies. Julia Kristeva describes the "staggered time" of dreams as "neither timeless nor strictly linear, but something between the two: an intersection, a structure, a hypertrophy" (331). Such a dream-like state is also, of course, like the state of syncope, where the subject leaves the rational, ordered world of linear time. By leaving consciousness, syncope allows us to anticipate, although not to achieve, timelessness or immortality: I leave the world, and then I return to it. I die, but I do not die. I am placed between the two, between life and death, exactly in the between-the-two, refusing one and the other. And that is how I dupe not only death but the difficult exercise of the end of life (Clement 261). Ava Klein is engaged in the difficult exercise of the end of life. She is placed between life and death, and what we have in these 265 pages is the experience of that suspension. If the novel

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seems "difficult" because it renders Ava’s consciousness without explanations or markers, then that too is appropriate to the difficult exercise of the end of life. This difficulty is like the disturbance of syncope. Syncope "makes people temporarily afraid" because it "is created to disturb the world. Whoever falls into syncope is afflicted with harrowing torments that are the beginning of free play inside the self. But however terrifying it may be, it is cured, or rather, it cures" (Clement 260; italics mine). Syncope is what allows Ava to see Treblinka as though she was there, to experience the harrowing torments of her parents. This "free play" inside the self also allows the disparate threads of a life to become braided. "It was not my purpose to bring them so close together: Francesco, Danilo, Carlos, now Anatole" (181) The gaps between them are simply part of the larger music that constitutes the intersubjectivity of the phenomenological world. Perhaps Ava is overreaching to build a cathedral of memory as an open structure that excludes nothing. "Accuse me again, if you like, of overreaching" (217), she says. Like Danilo, she will make no apologies. This "new cathedral" built by a Jew opens up the "memory of sensory time" (Kristeva 170). To be alive is to be conscious of all that has been lost, and to be conscious of the lost is not to be sad. Rather, it is to live fully. "To walk on this earth with you. To hold your hand" (AVA 228). At the end of Ava's life, there is pain, but not suffering (212). Only by a willingness to experience the intersubjective—and wounding—phenomenological world, and to break free of linear time, can we embrace those ghosts, those absences just beyond the power of fractured, partial language. "Memories blend. Memories fail in the end" (144). The dead, the lost must be sought in a language that ultimately cannot name them. And so Maso’s words become themselves talismans of loss, cries of the heart, sounds of diminishing referentiality.

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These enigmatic sounds and silences are at the heart of AVA's syncope, a movement in counter time that opposes death as well as the limits of language and narrative by involving the reader as co-creator. Maso refers indirectly to the Foucauldian death of the author and elicits active interventions by the reader. "The poem demands the demise of the poet who writes it and the birth of the poet who reads it" (AVA 65). AVA demands that readers become part of the chorus of voices. When she recalls the first line of the Emily Dickinson poem "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died" (228), Ava recites only the first clause, and not the second. Readers must complete the remaining clause. Yet most readers will resist. Ava makes us complicit in her death by asking us to inhabit that space, that silence, and to sing into it the three disturbing words we do not wish to say. As we hesitate to complete the line, we experience the reciprocal recognition that happens when the speaking subject speaks of what he or she sees to another. We "hear" the vibration, the beat, the buzz, that Ava hears. The fiction that is Ava's consciousness blends into our consciousness and the "anonymous visibility" that links individuals to the visible. (MerleauPonty, Visible 142). In that moment when we are both moving toward and resisting the completion of the Dickinson line, we are suspended in the short circuit of syncope. "Between life and death, only syncope opens the doors—and immediately closes them again" (Clement 198). The text depends on us, in an "extraordinary collaboration" that echoes Ava's collaboration with Andrew on the erotic song cycle (92). We thus enact the rhythm of AVA, and become, as readers, extraordinarily free. Shortly before recalling the Emily Dickinson poem, Ava thinks: "Today Danilo says he felt the form of his new book and the form did not betray him but set him free" (AVA 226). This freedom is the primary sensation that Ava experiences on her final day. The music of time in AVA is the open door, the arch in that airy cathedral that sets both writer and reader free.

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The first page of the paperback edition makes the August 15, 1990 date explicit. It is possible

that her birthday is Feb. 28. Andrew dates a letter on Feb. 28, 1990. He encloses a purim present. Purim commemorates Esther's deliverance of the Jews of Persia from massacre.


I have discussed the relevance of Hélène Cixous's theories and of women's travel narratives to

Maso's work in papers that I presented at the Midwest Modern Language Association Convention in November 1999 and at the Twenty-fifth Annual Conference on Film and Literature in January 2000. These papers, as well as the present essay in different form, will be included in my study of Maso's novels, to be published in 2001 by Peter Lang.


Sophie (and not Rachel) was pregnant, according to Maso, in an interview, 3 April 2000.


In the same interview (3 April 2000), Maso clarified that Bernard Reznikoff and Bernard

Goldberg are the same character. The reference to Goldberg on p. 66 was a mistake that she did not catch in the galley proofs.


Cathedrals and ladders recur throughout Maso's novels, as I have indicated in two papers that I

presented at the Midwest Modern Language Association Convention in November 1999. Different versions of these papers will appear in my forthcoming study of Maso's novels.

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Maso, in another interview (2 August 2000), explained that Ava's parents, Philip and Rachel

Klein, were like many Holocaust survivors who practiced a "cult of silence" about it, and that they also did not raise Ava in an actively religious household. Ava is thus drawn to Francesco's practice of Catholicism for its beautiful pageantry, even though she does not convert. Maso said that the references to celebrating holidays, including saints' days, "with verve" are linked to Francesco.


The comparison to William Carlos Williams is not arbitrary. Maso quotes from "The Great

Figure" in The Art Lover and has discussed her deep admiration for Williams, a poet from her native Paterson, New Jersey. See her essay "The Shelter of the Alphabet: Home."


Ash also has other connotations, such as death and rebirth, and is perhaps an echo of the

Treblinka motif. Maso frequently uses images of fire in her novels. In The American Woman in the Chinese Hat, completed just before AVA was written, though published afterward, the narrator imagines herself and the world on fire. Although the line "We lost the baby, Anatole" on 237 could have been spoken to a living Anatole, Maso believes that Ava loses the baby after Anatole has already disappeared. She is writing more about this in Bay of Angels (Telephone interview, 2 August 2000).


The book jacket on the hardcover edition refers to Carlos as a "teenager."


The metaphor of the leash returns in Maso's acknowledgments in Defiance, where she thanks

her editor, Carol DeSanti, for "the length of the leash." Maso thus ironically implies that for a

Osborne 37

wild creature such as an artist (or a rare bird, such as Ava) a leash may be necessary, but that it should be long enough to allow for plenty of slack. Carlos' role is taken up in more extreme fashion by the narrator of Defiance.


According to Maso, Ava and Carlos divorced before 1988, when Ava goes back to France and

to Rio de Janeiro. She is either alone in Rio or with another lover, who "could be anyone" (Interview, 3 April 2000).


I conclude that Ana Julia died in 1988 because several items in the text indicate that she died

after Ava and Carlos are divorced, because it is conceivable that in 1988 Ava received her first test results, and because of the date on a container of guandu. When the relatives can finally bear to make Ana Julia's favorite food again, the guandu (made from the pigeon pea, grown in the Caribbean, India, Panama and Brazil) had expired in 1989.

Osborne 38

Works Cited

American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed. New York: Dell, 1994. Bakhtin, Mikhail. The Dialogic Imagination. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: U of Texas P, 1981. Barthes, Roland. S/Z. New York: Hill and Wang, 1974. Benjamin, Walter. "Theses on the Philosophy of History." 1950. In Illuminations. 1955. trans. Harry Zohn. London: Fontana, 1992. Blanchot, Maurice. The Space of Literature. Ed and trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: U Nebraska P, 1982. Brown, Laura. "Not Outside the Range: One Feminist Perspective on Psychic Trauma." Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Ed. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U P, 1995: 100-112. Cixous, Hélène. Coming to Writing and Other Essays. ed. Deborah Jenson. Trans. Sarah Cornell, Deborah Jenson, Ann Liddle, Susan Sellers. Cambridge: Harvard U P, 1991. ——. La ("The Feminine"). 1976. Excerpts. Trans. Susan Sellers. The Hélène Cixous Reader. Ed. Susan Sellers. New York: Routledge, 1994: 59-67. ——-. Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. Trans. Sarah Cornell and Susan Sellers. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. Clement, Catherine. Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture. Trans. Sally O’Driscoll and Deirdre M. Mahoney. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1994. DeLeuze, Gilles. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 1989.

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Genette, Gerard. Narrative Discourse: An Essay on Method. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca: Cornell U P, 1980. Grosz, Elizabeth. Space, Time and Perversion. New York: Routledge, 1995. Kristeva, Julia. Time and Sense: Proust and the Experience of Literature. Trans. Ross Guberman. New York: Columbia U P, 1996. Martin, Wallace. Recent Theories of Narrative. Ithaca: Cornell U P, 1986. Maso, Carole. The Art Lover. San Francisco: North Point P, 1990. —— ..AVA. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive P, 1993. ——-. "From AVA." Conjunctions 20 (Spring 1993): 172. ——-. "Except Joy: on Aureole." The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 17.3 (1997): 112-27 ——-. "An Essay." The American Poetry Review, 24.2 (1995): 26-31. ——-. Ghost Dance. San Francisco: North Point P, 1986. ——-. “The Shelter of the Alphabet: Home.” A Place Called Home: Twenty Writing Women Remember. Ed. Mickey Pearlman. New York: St. Martin’s, 1996. 169-185. ——. Telephone Interview. 3 April 2000. ——. Telephone Interview. 2 August 2000. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. Colin Smith. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962. ———. The Visible and the Invisible. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Evanston, IL: Northwestern U P, 1968. Morson, Gary Saul, and Caryl Emerson. Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics. Stanford, CA: Stanford U P, 1990. Neville, Susan. “STUFF: Some Random Thoughts on Lists.” AWP Chronicle, Feb.1998: 5-11. Porter, Katherine Anne. "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall." 1930. The Collected Stories.

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New York: New American Library, 1970: 80-89. Ricoeur, Paul. "Narrative Time." On Narrative. Ed. W. J. T. Mitchell. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1981: 165-166. Stein, Gertrude. "Composition as Explanation." Writings 1903-1932. Ed. Catherine R. Stimpson and Harriet Chesman. New York: Library of America, 1998: 520-529. Turner, Victor. Blazing the Trail: Way Marks in the Exploration of Symbols. Ed. Edith Turner. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1992. van der Kolk, Bessel A. and Onno van der Hart. "The Intrusive Past: The Flexibility of Memory and the Engraving of Trauma." Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Ed. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U P, 1995: 158-182. Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. 1925. San Diego: Harvest/Harcourt Brace, 1953. -----. The Waves. 1931. San Diego: Harvest/Harcourt Brace, 1978.

Maso Bibliography 1 SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY (UPDATED AUGUST 2007) WORKS BY CAROLE MASO Books The American Woman in the Chinese Hat. Normal, IL : Dalkey Archive, 1994. New York: Plume, 1995. The Art Lover. San Francisco: North Point P, 1990. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1995. New Directions, 2006 Aureole. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1996. City Lights, 2002. AVA. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive P, 1993. Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2002. Break Every Rule. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000. Defiance. New York: Dutton, 1998. Dalkey Archive, 2004. Ghost Dance. San Fransisco: North Point, 1986. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1995. The Room Lit By Roses: A Journal of Pregnancy and Birth. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000.

Essays, Excerpts and Stories (*work republished in Break Every Rule) “A Novel of Thank You.” Conjunctions: Tributes 29.1 (1997): 171-98. “Can’t.” Nerve: Literary Smut. Ed. Genevieve Field and Rufus Griscom. New York: Broadway, 1998. 257-262. “Eclipse.” Conjunctions: Faces of Desire 48.1 (2007): 383-398. “An Essay.” The American Poetry Review 24.2 (1995): 26-31. *“Except Joy: On Aureole.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 17.3 (1997): 112-27. *“From AVA.” Conjunctions: Unfinished Business 20.1 (1993): 172-76.

Maso Bibliography 2 “From The American Woman in the Chinese Hat.” Conjunctions: The Credos Issue 21.1 (1993): 34-51. *“Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose: A Lifelong Conversation with Myself, Entered Midway.” The American Poetry Review 24.2 (1995): 26-31. *“One Moment of True Freedom.” Belles Lettres 8.4 (1993): 3-5. *“Rupture, Verge, and Precipice. Precipice, Verge, and Hurt Not.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 16.1 (1996): 54-75. “Sappho Sings the World Ecstatic.” Chick-lit: On the Edge. Ed. Cris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell. Normal, IL: FC2, 1995. 42-51. “Solstice.” Conjunctions: Twentieth Anniversary Issue 37.1 (2001): 225-228. *“Surrender.” Reclaiming the Heartland. Ed. Karen Osborne and William Spurlin. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996. 213-18. “The Bay of Angels.” Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers. Ed. E. J. Levy. New York: Avon, 1995. 320-337. “The Intercession of the Saints.” Conjunctions: Crossing Over 33.1 (1999): 261-274. “The Names.” Conjunctions: American Fiction: States of the Art 34.1 (2000): 474-477. “The Passion of Anne Frank.” Conjunctions: Two Kingdoms 41.1 (2003): 203-216. *“The Shelter of the Alphabet: Home.” A Place Called Home: Twenty Writing Women Remember. Ed. Mickey Pearlman. New York: St. Martin’s, 1996. 169-185. “‘Traveling Light’ from The Bay of Angels.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 17.3 (1997): 128-43. “Votive: Chalice from Beauty is Convulsive.” An Anthology of Fetish Fiction. Ed. John Yau. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1998. 157-63. “Votive: Vision.” Ploughshares 23.2/3 (1997): 119-23. “Young H Saved from Infamy.” Conjunctions: Anatomy of Roads, The Quest Issue 44.1 (2005): 279-284. “World Book.” Symploke. 12.1/2 (2004) 188-190.

Maso Bibliography 3 Interviews Berila, Beth. “A Correspondence with Carole Maso.” Salt Hill Journal 8 (1999) 107-13. Cooley, Nicole. “Carole Maso: An Interview.” The American Poetry Review 24.2 (1995): 32-5. Debord, Matthew. “Carole Maso: From Margins to Center.” Publishers Weekly 245.17 (1998): 38-9. Elledge, Jim. “Working in the darkness toward the light: an interview with Carole Maso.” American Book Review 17.5 (1996) 5-13. Evenson, Brian. “Carole Maso.” Rain Taxi Review of Books 2.4 (1997/98). Gottlieb, Eli. “Carole Maso: A Collage.” Provincetown Arts (1991): 94-7. Hacket, Joyce. “An Interview with Carole Maso.” Poets and Writers 24.3 (1996): 64-73. Harris, Victoria Frankel. “Carole Maso: An Introduction and Interpellated Interview.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 17.3 (1997): 105-11. Moore, Steven. “An Interview with Carole Maso.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 14.2 (1994): 186-91. Pearlman, Mickey. “Carole Maso.” Inter/View: Talks with America's Writing Women. Mickey Pearlman and Katherine Usher Henderson. Lexington: U P of Kentucky, 1990. 73-78.

Reviews Burkman, Greg. “General Fiction—AVA by Carole Maso.” Booklist 89 (1993): 1570-71. Cohen, Lisa. “Death Kit—AVA by Carole Maso.” The Village Voice 11 May 1993: 33. Dorsey, Michael. “More Seductive to a Writer.” American Book Review 16.3 (1994) 17, 28-9. Harris, Michael. “In Brief: Fiction.” The Los Angeles Times 16 May 1993: 6. Innes, Charlotte. “Dancing on the Literary Edge.” The Los Angeles Times 23 June 1994: E1. Lasher, Susan. “From the Erogenous Zone.” Parnassus: Poetry in Review 20.1/2 (1995): 146-69.

Maso Bibliography 4 Levins, Betsy. “The Final Day.” Library Journal 118.16 (1993): 152. Li, Cherry W. “AVA.” Library Journal 118.6 (1993): 132. O'Connell, Patty. “Expanding the Boundaries of Literary Fiction.” Belles Lettres (1993): 2, 11. Osborne, Karen Lee. “Memories of cities, lovers and husbands shape a poetic novel.” The Chicago Tribune 8 Aug. 1993: 6. Smith, Wendy. “As She Lay Dying.” The New York Times 12 Dec. 1993: 23. Winters, L. “AVA.” Choice 31.1 (1993): 121.

Articles on AVA Harris, Victoria Frankel. “Emancipating the Proclamation: Gender and Genre in AVA.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 17.3 (1997): 175-85. Kuebler, Carolyn. “Reading Carole Maso.” Context: A Forum for Literary Arts and Culture 2 (2000). 14 April 2000. Page, Barbara. “Women Writers and the Restive Text: Feminism, Experimental Writing and Hypertext.” Postmodern Culture: An Electronic Journal of Interdisciplinary Criticism 6.2 (1996) 29. Quinn, Roseanne Giannini. “‘We were working on an erotic song cycle’: Reading Carole Maso’s AVA as the Poetics of Female Italian-American Cultural and Sexual Identity.” MELUS 26.1 (2001) 91-113. Silbergleid, Robin Paula. “‘Treblinka, a rather musical word’: Carole Maso’s PostHolocaust Narrative.” Modern Fiction Studies 53.1 (2007): 1-26.

Resources on Maso’s Other Work Beranger, Jean. “Fractures et heritages dans Ghost Dance de Carole Maso.” Annales du Centre de Recherches sur l'Amerique Anglophone 20 (1995): 3-28, 233. Berila, Elizabeth. “The art of change: Experimental writing, cultural activism, and feminist social transformation (Carole Maso, Gloria Anzaldua, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Anna Deavere Smith).” Dissertation Abstracts International 64.1 (2003).

Maso Bibliography 5 Cooley, Nicole Ruth. “The Avant Garde at the End of the Century: Gertrude Stein, Postmodernism and Contemporary Women Writers.” Dissertation Abstracts International 57.4 (1996). Harris, Victoria Frankel, ed. Raymond Queneau/Carole Maso. Spec. issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction. 17.3 (1997) 104-215. Karup, Seema. “A Book of Her Own: Postmodern Practices in Contemporary American Women’s Experimental Literature.” Dissertation Abstracts International. 65.8 (2005). Lanza, Carmela Delia. “Loving the Mother: Feminine Spiritual Spaces in the Writings of Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez, Tina DeRosa, and Carole Maso.” Dissertation Abstracts International. 61.12 (2001). Szczerba, Lisa. “The Aesthetics of Self-Representation: Portrayals of Pregnancy and Childbirth in Autobiographical Film, Self-Portraiture and Literary Autobiography.” Dissertation Abstracts International. 65.11 (2005). Silbergleid, Robin Paula. “‘We perished, each alone’: Loss and Lyricism in Woolf, Maso, and Young.” Virginia Woolf & Communities. Ed. Jeanette McVicker and Laura Davis. Saint Louis: Pace U P, 1999. 57-64. Stirling, Grant. “Exhausting Heteronarrative: The American In the Chinese Hat.” Modern Fiction Studies 44.4 (1998): 935-58. ---. “Mourning and Metafiction: Carole Maso’s The Art Lover.” Contemporary Literature 39.4 (1998): 586-613. ---. “The Narrativity of Narcissism: Cultural Contexts of Contemporary American Metafiction.” Dissertation Abstracts International 59.5 (1998): 1576. Worthington, Marjorie. “Posthumous Posturing: The Subversive Power of Death in Contemporary Women’s Fiction.” Studies in the Novel 32.2 (2000): 243-63.

Contributors 1 Contributors MONICA BERLIN teaches creative writing and composition at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. NICOLE COOLEY is an Assistant Professor of English at Queens College--City University of New York. Her book of poetry Resurrection won the 1995 Walt Whitman Award and was published in 1996 by LSU Press. Her novel Judy Garland, Ginger Love was published in 1998 by Regan Books/Harper Collins. She is at work on a critical book on experimental women writers titled Who Can Think about a Novel: Women, Innovation and the Politics of Narrative. LUCIA CORDELL GETSI is the author of four volumes of poetry, a translation of the complete poems of Georg Trakl and translations of other German and Austrian poets, essays on poetry and poetics, as well as fiction and creative nonfiction. Her book of poems Intensive Care won the Capricorn Prize for Poetry, and she has been the recipient of the Ann Stanford Prize and two Pablo Neruda Prizes, among other awards, as well as a fellowship from the N.E.A., four fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, and two Fulbright Fellowships to Germany and Austria. She is University Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Co-Director of Creative Writing at Illinois State University, where she teaches poetics, comparative literature, and poetry writing, and edits the Spoon River Poetry Review. She is currently putting together another book of poems and another volume of translations. KATHLEEN O'GORMAN is Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University. She has published on James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, W. B. Yeats, and on a number of twentieth-century British poets. She is currently working on a study of Beckett in Carole Maso's writing. KAREN LEE OSBORNE teaches in the English Department at Columbia College of Chicago, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 1996. She is the author of two novels, Carlyle Simpson (1986) and Hawkwings (1991). She edited The Country of Herself: Short Fiction by Chicago Women (1993) and co-edited, with William J. Spurlin, Reclaiming the Heartland: Lesbian and Gay Voices from the Midwest (1996). Her fiction and criticism have appeared in many journals, including North American Review, the Denver Quarterly, Literary Review, and Women's Review of Books, as well as in edited collections. She reviewed AVA in 1993 for the Chicago Tribune. She has given several papers on Maso's work at conferences and is currently completing a critical study of Maso's novels.

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