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.