Thursday, March 23, 2006

The very strange thing

about this Guardian excerpt from Stella Duffy's contribution to a short-story anthology called Little Black Dress ("I have become the Baroness. I almost don't know how it happened, as if the time that passed did so on grandma's footsteps, creeping up to catch me out. One day I was Liesl, wet dress of palest pink clinging to my sixteen-going-on-twenty-one breasts, panting the possibilities of all things male beyond my ken (sure they were, Barbie) and the next, I am the Baroness") is that it seems to un-parody--some years after the fact--my friend Bruno Maddox's novel My Little Blue Dress. Which I thought had made it thereafter impossible to have artfully naive/nostalgic female narrators ever again meditate on the shapeliness of their comely breasts unless it was either (a) postmodern or (b) pornographic (or both). Possibly the Duffy falls into category (a), that's what the Barbie aside would seem to suggest (actually I quite like Duffy's novels, I shouldn't single her out like this), but it wasn't at all clear in context; I think there should be a literary moratorium on phrases such as "sixteen-going-on-twenty-one breasts."


  1. Hahahahahaha!

    Was that short story meant as a joke/tonge-and-cheek?

    Are you supposed to laugh-out-loud at how ridiculous it seems that a sixteen-year-old in night gown would sit around contemplating her bosoom in such high-flown terms; or, is all that purple-prose addressing real psychological states for a sexually-dewy, quiveringly sensual female?


    Oh man!




    PS. I think it would be funny for a Fraser-like female character to wax philosophical in a silken negligee about her burgeoning breasts and the possibilities they hold for her suitors:

    *clasping at breasts, face stricken with heightened expectation, yearning, over-emoted longing*

    "These orbs, these great treasured, succulent buds. Oh night, oh night, where is their taker! I await the Leviathan to overpower me, undue the elaborate confusion of my bra, and encircle my tender teets with gnawing, desperate lips and furious tongue!"

    *from down below on a noisy street, her first gentleman caller*

    "Hey baby! You got it going on!"

  2. Never heard of your friend Jenny, or his book, but the line is a reference to Charmian Carr being 21 when she sang "Sixteen going on Seventeen" in The Sound of Music. (hence Baroness). The Barbie ref is to do with the song line 'things beyond my ken'. Ken. Neither postmodern, nor porn - pretty simple really.
    Stella Duffy

  3. Stella, thank you for clarification, I fear I am the only person in the western hemisphere with access to television who has somehow never seen The Sound of Music.... I totally missed all your references! Sorry....

  4. 16 going on 21 breasts?

    That would make a sow jealous and a corps of Marines aroused...

  5. I'm leaving a comment more-or-less as a tribute to Bruno Maddox's inspired writing, having just absorbed his article in Discover on temperature scales. It's frustrating to be unable to direct encomiums to the author directly, and as you know the great Mr. Maddox, I'm trusting that you'll pass along to him that some harmless drudge thought his stuff was pretty great.

    Of course, when I have time, I'll look at your stuff and--no doubt--it will be wonderful too!