The Ghost of Understanding: A Novel

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9781551520506: The Ghost of Understanding: A Novel
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Riot grrrl fiction by the lead singer of Mecca Normal.

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About the Author:

Jean Smith is the singer and lyricist in Mecca Normal, whose first album was released in 1986. Their tenth album, the Family Swan was released by Kill Rock Stars. As a solo artist, Jean has also released an album. The next Mecca Normal CD will be out in spring 2006. Jean is profiled in The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock and The Trouser Press Guide to Music. She is the author of I Can Hear Me Fine, and has written for magazines including Rolling Stone, Your Flesh, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Raygun, and Resister. Jean lives in Vancouver.

Review:

Jean Smith is a singer/guitarist in the band Mecca Normal and part of the Riot Grrl movement. Excerpts within this fragmented novel reveal aspects of the cutting edge musician's life deftly. Much of this book is a sort of dream quest by a character named Claudine that is sometimes profound, and sometimes too stream-of-consciousness to be easily understandable. Some thoughts seem to be poems hiding amid prose. The disparate pieces in this non-linear jigsaw include everything from an explicit film scene that is meant to portray a feminist attitude to sex (but which only succeeds in showing male-dominated porn), to some truly insightful meditations on life as intelligent artist and woman. Smith's stylistic variety leads both to brilliant lines like "Men have a way of trying to get what they want by correcting women," and to the indecipherable mystery in another section: "The case before us involves the ultra drowning of the spiritualist's immortal body of tricks." Feminist perception is represented well in some sections, but elements like Claudine's relationship with a hard-drinking man in love with another woman suggests someone not liberated from negative patterns with men. If you can get through the extremely esoteric passages, the revelatory nuggets make this fractured mirror of a book worth a read. One senses Smith is on the edge of something unusual -- you want her to complete the journey and tell us about it in a way we can relate to our own lives. -- From Independent Publisher

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