I'm saying that I'm a moody, insecure, narrow-minded, jealous, borderline homicidal bitch, and I want you to promise me that you're okay with that, because it's who I am, and you're what I need.
Jeaniene Frost, Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)
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The two jars [of apricots] before me are like stories written down; they preserve something that might otherwise vanish. Some stories are best let go, but the process of writing down and giving stories away fixes a story in its particulars, like the apricots fixed in their sweet syrup, and the tale then no longer belongs to the writer but to the readers. And what is left out is left out forever.
Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
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You know at least a hundred Annas, stranded in fictional love affairs written by men who do not know that Ellesmere exists. Come to that, women are all Annas, caught or not, Annas sweating their way from one day to the next. They know the wars within their orbits, between children and husbands and lovers, need and desire and the desperate necessities of symmetry, how they will be always and for ever culpable, exiled for their visceras, eviscerated for their exiles.
Aritha Van Herk (Places Far From Ellesmere, 82 83)
Thus, Ellesmere is a space where all Annas, fictional or real, can escape from gender impositions. In Ellesmere, women are free to explore their personal fictions. Ellesmere offers a possibility "of a new story; Anna can invent herself in an undocumented landscape, an undetermined fiction" (125), since "reading is a new act here, not introverted and possessive but exploratory, the text a new body of self, the self a new reading of place" (113). Ellesmere becomes a place where literary heroines can participate in a different fiction, and their readers can explore and liberate themselves from the gender constraints of the society they left behind in the south. Moreover, van Herk is conscious of having fictionalized herself:
You know you are a character in a larger novel, a novel of geography and passion, reading yourself as you are being read by a comprehensive reader. How would this reading read your places, you self written between habitations, the braille of fingers on each locational inflection? (Places 118)
Ellesmere becomes a shelter for Tolstoy's Anna and all entrapped literary heroines as well as for the fictional and real van Herk. Because of an effective erasure of the boundaries between fiction and non fiction, writer and reader, Ellesmere becomes a space of freedom for readers as well. Ellesmere, then, is described in terms of mystery, escape and, to a certain degree, adventure. Ellesmere is viewed in terms of blankness: it is described as an "undocumented" and "unaltered" desert. It is romanticized, idealized and rendered mysterious as an ideal place for women....
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