Foucault’s Daughter and her author

1. I have never met Quiet Riot Girl/Boy, Elly or Notorious QRG.

Nearly a year ago, I met QRG on Twitter. I can’t quite remember the hashtag she was using but it was an abbreviation for November Writers’ Month or something. I followed her and gradually became more and more interested in her tweets. This was for two reasons: firstly, she would say things that seemed incredibly ill-considered but when I discussed them with her, they turned out to be well thought through. And secondly, but related to the first, I loved the fact that although she was certain of her own views, she didn’t cling to the black and white but danced around the grey areas, exploring and reporting back.

2. Non-intellectal things I know about QRG for a fact: she is 5’7″ tall. Or maybe 5’8″. That’s it. Although sometimes I associate her with short, hairy legs because of an exchange we had about Morecambe and Wise. (This is a peril of Twitter.)

There is a theory in Quantum Physics. Or maybe it’s a fact. But anyway, it’s called superposition. In brief it means having something in multiple states that are all true until the actual state is observed. And so I have lots of ideas about QRG. Some of them are true and some of them are wrong. If I was to meet her, I guess that the superpositioning would collapse. I’ve come to think that would be quite dull. Although, perhaps that is true of everyone we know.

3. Something I know about QRG that other people don’t although they could: she is funny and knowledgeable about music, books and film.

I love people who are passionate and informed about their topic. QRG is deeply into sexuality, theory and practice, and the topic of gender. And whilst sometimes I’m lost, I’ve managed to learn a lot from my chats with her and her blog.

4. She can write.

And so to the point of this blog. The book that QRG was writing when we first met was finally published recently. It’s called Scribbling On Foucault’s Walls and is part novel, part auto-biography and part essay collection. (Although she may object to that description.)

If I was sat with you now – and with a pen and paper – I would draw the novel as three interlocking circles, where each circle represented one of the parts described above, for the three parts of the book overlap and intermingle, with QRG at the very centre where all three overlap.

This makes for an engrossing read, with a running commentary through the novel’s development and, alongside that, detours and explorations of theory. Given the interleaving between the book’s components, it seems wrong to discuss them separately but I do want to say the novel – concerning Foucault’s (fictional) daughter – is beautifully written and, for me, finished too soon. QRG writes in a way that whilst idiosyncratic and original does not stick in your throat like, say, Rushdie but is eminently readable; you forget you are reading as you do with the best writers.

The autobiographical parts, both real (I think!) and imagined are equally engrossing and there is a fictional scene towards the end, with QRG playing herself, that I would have enjoyed if it had been five times as long.

If I struggled anywhere with the book – and this is no criticism of the book itself – it was with some of the theory, which was just too deep and esoteric for me. That said, I still read it and took something from it, I think.

Ultimately, I’m not sure this is a book that one can ever fully understand, without being QRG herself. But that doesn’t stop it being engaging and enjoyable. You can download it and read it yourself from here.

Finally, QRG talks about the reader being the writer – something else I don’t fully grasp – but I, of course, brought my own baggage to this experience; as a father, it made me think about the times when I don’t see my children. Not because they aren’t there but because I’m somewhere off in my head.

About fennerpearson
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8 Responses to Foucault’s Daughter and her author

  1. Thanks for such a lovely review, Fenner.

    I may comment further on my blog. There’s a lot here! ‘The Reader is The Writer’ -my writing led to your reading led to your writing led to my reading leads to my writing….

  2. Jean Rolt says:

    Enjoyed the post……look forward to reading the book if I can figure a way to download it.

  3. Henry says:

    The enigmatic QRG, who provokes strong reactions from feminists and others, was once (I understand) part of the ‘sisterhood’, or at least a feminist versed in theories of gender. She’s still interested in this stuff, but seems to reject the strain of feminism that takes as a premise the “oppression of women”.

    I think she now has developed a sense of how, logically, it would be easy to portray men as victims of inequality in the same way, and to the same extent. So in some ways (only some!) her path resembles that of Warren Farrell.

    In that ‘feminism’ is a kind of political stance that shouts slogans and ignores both the implications of those slogans, and the research that disproves their generalisations, I agree wholeheartedly with some of her points. As you say, her approach to debate with feminists is incendiary, and leads to some grief for her and them, but one often senses a good deal of thought – and life – behind her words.

    I previously rejected Foucault outright, possibly because of the use some academics have made of his words. QRG has persuaded me to have another look. I’ve yet to read her book, but will do so with interest.

  4. Thanks all. I never considered myself like Warren Farrell Henry but I think he and I share an ability to change our minds!

    Fenner- the bit in your piece that moved me the most was how you said you’d be happy if the last scene was ‘five times longer’. I enjoyed writing that scene and re-read it many times, partly for comfort. It is a fictional representation of a conversation between me and someone else that I know I will never be able to have. And sometimes in my mind I take myself to that cliff top and I continue the conversation.

  5. Elise says:

    Nice, Fenner! Some of the best novels are those that can never be fully understood by anyone but the author.

  6. I go with Robert Browning:

    ‘When I wrote this poem only God and I knew what it meant. Now only God knows’…

  7. Pingback: Foucault’s Daughter: Three Reviews « Quiet Riot Girl

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