A very wide ranging Q and A Session with Heather Fowler
Beautiful Ape Girl Baby by Heather Fowler is an amazing tour de force through contemporary America. It is sort of a cross between Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, Jack Kerouac's On the Road with a bit of Fanny Hill and Don Quixote in the mix. If you are a Pynchon lover, maybe you can see the lead character, Beautiful, in Southern California with Oedipus Mass.
Beautiful was born with Ape like features and strength and appetites. Her parents were very wealthy
and they never wanted to acknowledge there was anything odd or different about their daughter.
Much like the young Buddha, she was raised in a compound sheltered from the harshness, poverty, venality, and ugliness of American culture. She was brought up by servants who saw to it that she was very well educated while never giving her any idea she was not totally perfect in every way. No one ever criticized her or told her "no". As she reaches late adolescence, seventeen, she decides to leave her sheltered environment and in the company of her driver, sets out to experience life. She has a very strong sexual appetite and she does not at first understand it is risky business in several ways for a girl who looks like an ape to demand sex from men she meets but barely know on her journey.
As Beautiful encounters strangers she begins to discover things about herself. She is violent occasionally and reacts very badly to having her will thwarted. Beautiful Baby Ape Girl is a savagely darkly humorous commentary on a world wide culture in which young women are valued for their looks, where intelligence is something to be shunned if not in the service of the corporate structure.
At times Beautiful Ape Girl Baby shocked me with it directness, darkness rarely seen. It made me laugh out loud more than once. I am so glad to have the opportunity to read this amazing first novel. I have been following the literary development of Heather Fowler for several years now. Her talent and imagination never fail to amaze me.
Heather Fowler is the author of the novel Beautiful Ape Girl Baby (Pink Narcissus Press, June 2016) and the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press, July 2012), This Time, While We're Awake (Aqueous Books, May 2013), and Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness (Queen's Ferry Press, May 2014). Fowler's People with Holes was named a 2012 finalist for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction. This Time, While We're Awake was recently selected by artist Kate Protage for representation in the Ex Libris 100 Artists 100 Books exhibition this February and March in conjunction with the 2014 AWP Conference. Her fictive work has been made into fine art in several instances and her collaborative poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, written with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale, is the winner of the 2013 TWIN ANTLERS PRIZE FOR COLLABORATIVE POETRY and was released in December of 2014. Fowler's stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, JMWW, Prick of the Spindle, Short Story America, Feminist Studies and others, as well as having been nominated for numerous prizes. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine. Please visit her website: www.heatherfowler.c