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Synopsis: Cheryl has never been the right kind of country-club wife. She's always felt like an outsider, and now, in her mid-forties-- facing the harsh realities of aging while her marriage disintegrates and her troubled stepson, Teddy, is kicked out of college-- she feels cast adrift by the sparkling seaside community of Little Neck Cove, Connecticut. So when Teddy shows up at home just as a storm brewing off the coast threatens to destroy the precarious safe haven of the cove, she joins him in an epic downward spiral. This searing novel casts a harsh light on the glossy sheen of even the most ""perfect"" lives in America's exclusive beach communities.
From the Author:
Sara Gran: The narrator of your novel is only 44 (my age!) yet feels like her life as a sexually desirable person is over. Why is it so hard to even imagine a happy ending for the narrator of your book?
Karolina Waclawiak: I wanted to look at a person whose identity was wholly wrapped up in their ability to attract suddenly reach the moment I think all women hit, which is... the moment men stop looking at them... I'm interested in the lengths a person will go to feel wanted and needed, and so I wanted to write about that. It didn't end well, because I don't think it ever does.
SG: But is it possible to use that kind of beauty as a doorway into a more interesting life? Is it possible to use your beauty, rather than letting it eat you alive? Could you imagine an alternate ending for Cheryl?
KW: Ah, yes, see that's where things get interesting. I do think you can use beauty as a doorway into a more interesting life. I think beauty is something that can allow you to jump class. For instance, I love Anna Nicole Smith and think she was beautiful. She was someone who used her beauty to escape class and I think it happens often. My character does it, too. Anna Nicole is endlessly fascinating because she was reviled for being "white trash" and a "gold digger." Unfortunately, her beauty, and chasing that beauty, did eat her alive. Maybe I am just more drawn to the tragic tales of beauty rather than then the feel-good ones. Are there feel good ones? I don't know. For Cheryl, the happy ending would be growing old with her husband and getting progressively better at golf. That doesn't make for an interesting novel. I have to say, though, I'm not interested in putting my characters through hell just for the sake of watching them squirm. I did want to put myself in the shoes of a person who was looked at as someone who didn't "earn" her place in her community. Much like an Anna Nicole or any woman who is unsophisticated and jumps class. I also think it's interesting to think about trying to pass in upper classes, what behaviors you mimic to fake it until you make it. It all feels exhausting and sometimes people crumble under the weight of it.
SG: What about about beauty culture -- how does that fit into your life and the lives of your characters? I feel like, as women writers, looks (ours and our characters) are something we're discouraged from writing about, because it doesn't feel serious or literary. Can beauty be serious?
KW: I think beauty can be serious. I especially think the fading of beauty can be serious. One of the best films ever made, Sunset Boulevard, has one of the most interesting and complex heroines of all time and that whole film is an ode to the death of beauty and Norma Desmond's erasure. Has there ever been a more powerful female character than Norma Desmond? I don't think so. For books, I do absolutely think there's a feeling that to write about beauty is to not be a serious writer with a capital S, but that is inherently gendered, don't you think? Philip Roth has been canonized for writing about hurtling toward death, but I don't feel the same sense of recognition for female writers looking at the same topics. Maybe it's because of the lens they're filtering the conversation through. Framing our struggle with aging as a "fading beauty" issue is just another way to delegitimize female writers.
SG: You make an interesting point -- is our obsession with female aging a cover for an obsession with death? Is that what Norma Desmond was really so terrified of -- dying? Who can blame her?
KW: I think it is! We're just talking about it in a different way. I think men are just as freaked out about saggy jowly faces and paunches and weird hair growing in unfortunate places, but they aren't held to as high a standard as we are. So when we decay it's shockingly uncomfortable to talk about and deal with.
To be honest, it's hard getting older. I can see a difference in the way I look. And there's an anxiety that "time is running out." I think my character Cheryl is not only getting old, but she's also dealing with how sadness and despair affects how she looks and how she sees herself. It's like suddenly she woke up one morning and her life is falling apart and she doesn't recognize herself.
That disembodied feeling is one I wanted to get at in the book as well. And also, control. When your life is out of control, what do you try to do? Control something. How you look is easiest. When I've felt the worst, I'd say makeover time! I'd cut off all my hair or dye it a new color, or go get a makeover at a makeup counter and walk around feeling fabulous for the day. And then feel like [crap] again shortly afterwards.
The things we think about ourselves are vicious. I think we can celebrate our own beauty without tearing ourselves down for not feeling beautiful.
This is an edited excerpt from an interview that originally ran in Jezebel.
Title: The Invaders -
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: 2015
Book Condition: BRAND NEW
Book Description Blackstone Audio, Inc. Condition: New. MP3 CD. Worldwide shipping. FREE fast shipping inside USA (express 2-3 day delivery also available). Tracking service included. Ships from United States of America. Seller Inventory # 1504633547
Book Description Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2015. MP3 CD. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1504633547