Heather Fowler on The Reading Life
Website of Heather Fowler
Click here to read “Sex with Exes”
I first began to read the work of Heather Fowler in April of
2012. Since then I have posted on her four short story collections and her highly lauded debut novel, Beautiful Baby Ape Girl. (Here is my summing up of Beautiful Baby Ape Girl:
“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.”)
Heather Fowler also contributed a guest post on the short story and kindly joined me for a very interesting Q and A session. She is a very versatile, perceptive and talented writer. She has an occasionally wicked sense of the humour which comes out strongly in “Sex with Exes”.
As the story opens Jessica is at the door of her childhood best friend, a recently divorced woman, Charlie. Charlie, with a flair for the dramatic greets her wearing a strap-on:
“ She strokes her strap-on and smiles. “Want some, baby? I’d dyke this puppy out for you.” I think I start hyperventilating then, can’t decide on a quick retort. Charlie could mean it. She might m—I start to think. But Charlie laughs at my horror, like she does. “Kidding! I’m not gay, Jessica,” she says. “Please. I’m experiencing being a dick by wearing a dick. It’s an experiment. You see this dick? I’m wearing it to see how it must feel to be a guy. Don’t worry. And the neighbor? You think he wants some of this? Nah. That pussy.” The beeper goes off again, and she grabs a pot holder, saying, “Oh, shit! I gotta get those buns out of the oven. Get out the way.”
Charlie seems to be looking for a way to explore her sexual past. Romantically she has been active. She plans to have
sex with all of her exes that are still single, she figures maybe twenty or so.
Three weeks go by before they see each other again. Jessica’s own marriage is pretty routinised, she is a soccer mom (American symbol for Middle Class woman whose life revolves around her family),sex with her husband Sloan is pretty much always the same. Jessica cannot help but sometimes wish she had the freedom Charlie does. Of course Jessica wants to know how Charlie’s project is coming along.
I will leave the rest of the story untold so first time readers can relish it as I did. You can read it in the link at the top of this page.
It was a lot of fun to listen in on the conversations of Charlie and Jessica. Of course Jessica wants to know if she used the strap-on with any of her exes.
As I read this story I had a flash to a classic camp movie,
yes I’m showing my extreme age, Myra Breckenridge, starring Raquel Welch. “Sex with Exes”has a California feel to it, just like the movie. To men the idea of a woman with a strap on is a trifle challenging to their masculinity and a chance for a woman to enjoy a bit of role reversal.
Heather Fowler is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, librettist, and a novelist. Her debut novel Beautiful Ape Girl Baby released June of 2016. She is the author of four story collections and a collaborative poetry collection written with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans and an MA in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Fowler's stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India,with her work appearing in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, Feminist Studies, and more. From hearherfowler.com
To those who have not yet had the exquisite pleasure of reading Heather Fowler, you might start with the story links in my earlier posts. From there you should read her four collections in publication order then her novel.
I look forward to following her work for many years.