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  • By will lightman
    Sep 29, 2010
    “The self is only a door, a becoming, between two multiplicities… --Deleuze I haven’t read this novel. Due to arrive any day, I’ll quickly devour the remaining fifty-odd pages and duly report back. Wallace, Pynchon, and Oates can wait; because such is the talent of this young woman that Lulu’s 12-page leader offers up a meta-narrative of profound importance. What we have are remarkable character portrayals of two becoming- animals which, in this case, involves dog and cat-nesses. One sniffs, the other intuits; and being merely human cannot solve the problem at hand. Animality is required. In a larger sense, Ms. Hackler is asking what would we have to gain with a dog’s sense of smell? How would it feel to be a cat? What do we lack in our quotidian lives that would be enhanced by their particular qualities? If our senses of smell and touch were better, how would we think differently? In other words, perhaps we meditate ‘inwardly’ only because we lack the sensory apparatus to simply,... More > outwardly feel…which is to say in the Rilkian sense, to be. Perhaps even our own survival is at stake. Harking back to the ancient Indian epic, we come to understand that humans simply cannot survive without the cooperation of other animals. God strongly advises Rama that he needs help: becoming animal is to become, in essence, more human. This problematic is, ostensibly, Ms. Hackler’s personal desiring machine, and her means of expressing a transgressive otherliness so dear to our great authors. For them, it’s always a problem of breaking through the crystal of a highly-structured life, and of discovering a discursive tongue that both irritates, and communicates, but offers no compromise. Winter seeks a morning privacy without human trace—be done with their fowl smell, thinks he!—but agrees to solve a human problem nevertheless. Most assuredly, it’s all for the sake of children whose innocence and imagination is worth the effort of saving. Here I might mention that Winter is motivated by what must be done. Perhaps, then, we might suggest that his ethic rejects the principles of expectation and gain. This utilitarianism is for the lowly human-all-too-human, and it’s perhaps with some projective irony that the strongly utilitarian among us have always labeled an excess of their own behavior as “dog-like”, or cynical. And far from being psychobabble, “Winter” stands for far more than as the “alter-ego” of our writer. Rather, it expresses her personal tension with a world of the over-determined socius. This, moreover, is consistent throughout the entire history of fiction. Memorable characters have always achieved a breakthrough by becoming-animal, and by achieving a difference that sets them apart. In other words, we first repeat as members of a group, then acquire difference which we call ‘subjectivity’. And like all significant authors, that of Ms. Hackler involves silence. Winter, c’est moi. As such, Winter stands for an anti-Charleston tract. Full of touristy business, this jewel of a town boasts streets named after Pro-slave secessionists, a gorgeously noisy promenade, wonderful cuisine, and (amazingly), a music scene that surpasses both Atlanta and New Orleans. Visitors rightfully compare the town to what they’ve read of late-nineteenth Century Paris. Yet this is also virtual hot-house world from which the sensible must somewhat detach. In my own novel, Andie is afforded the respite of her mother’s backyard that gazes into the trees and the Ashley River beyond. This is the privacy of a big-city girl coming home for her own daughter’s early-summer wedding. On the other hand, Charleston’s isolated off-season beaches offer meditative respite for the locals in the colder months. Roaming alone, I am become dog. Irritatingly enough, I am intruded upon by my sister, the sarcastic cat. But fighting sibs need each other. Felines and canines complement, and offer to each other the same exchange of advantages as do humans with other species. Hopefully then, Ms Hackler’s next oeuvre will be about Charleston. How, perhaps, would a woman of intellect integrate into such a traditional ‘culture’? How are women, in general, encumbered by southern white-male traditionalism? My own stories are about flight from this narrow world—and to this end I can employ both my two daughters and two nieces as models. But what would it be like for them to have stayed? This narrative is, regrettably, beyond my capacity to imagine, so to this end I’ll defer to Ms. Hackler. On the title page our author writes fondly of her parents. She is indeed blessed to have a mom who persuades and inspires, and a dad who has obviously encouraged her to write. With his notion of “emotive writing”, however, I need to express disagreement. Pastors employ a highly personal language in order to reinforce pre-existing beliefs. Furthermore, it’s obvious that religion, being based upon the non-provable, naturally inscribes itself upon an emotive tableau. After all, the biblical chapters are called “testaments” for good reason! But literature presents dimensional problems unknown to belief in a supernatural being. First, it’s simply incorrect to assume that the author should form a strong enough bond with the reader that would necessitate strong outward expression of pathos. Oates herself, in fact, has defined “the novel” as a rupture of reader/writer expectations. In essence, the novelist says, “I’m not here to emotively seduce, but rather to challenge, and to show”. To do otherwise would be to flatter, and to behave in a pastoral manner. Despite fatherly advice, Ms. Hackler doesn’t preach. So-called “emotive writing” also raises the fundamental issue of whose emotions might we be pricking. After that dreadful illusion of an “inner self” that’s constant and discoverable, perhaps nothing in American-contemporary lingua franca is more pernicious than the notion that we all respond emotionally to the same verbal stimuli. There is no collective consciousness other than that of what an amalgam of Opra and The Corporations want there to be. The necessity of being southern extends only to the state issue of a driver’s license; acting out the role of Miz Scarlet is a matter of volition. In any case, post-modernity is all about the acknowledgement of a literature that resounds in a multitude of minoritarian voices. I, personally, am touched by her authorial presence because I understand what she’s saying, and its importance. Hence, we have the finite, readerly set of the lucky few who see Weather as far more than bedtime reading for our dear little sweet pickles. This places Ms. Hackler squarely within the parameters of discourse set by Cervantes, Twain, and Carroll. Those that don’t understand remain enclosed within a Platonic-Christian universe which vainly asserts the primacy of a mind/god relationship. We are made in His image, and that’s that. But the naturalism which Ms.Hackler proposes opposes this. For all of us, getting outside of that Human Condition called “enclosure” always involves a transcendency of some sort— the object of this mental effort always being called ‘god”. Hers, correctly, is that of an exploration of nature. What the body can also do is to imitate the actions of other animals. Perhaps, then, what we have here is a inter-familial tract of defining “god” within the context of a clearly religious family. So perhaps this is her portrait of an artist as a young woman, with none of the emotive tropes associated with the Joycean version. Hers is simply a clear-minded dialogue with the priestly caste. Man becoming doglike stands inalterably opposed to our being made in “his” image. To be done with the judgment of god is to turn one’s eyes to The Natural, as Ms. Hackler knows the case to be. The reverend might be amazed to discover his daughter a dog; but then, perhaps not. Becoming animal inevitably leads to becoming-woman. By this we understand the concept of absolute difference, and of singularity. Male-ness involves a collectivity mired within the ether of power, and the southern belle is nothing but a participle to this oppressive game. First, then, we must pass through a stage of an altered animality (so-called consciousness?). To observe that dog/cat/you- name- it behavior might bestow advantages is to become outside of a given self. Only then might we become true subjects. Some years ago the issue was also raised over the extension of oneself via the means of cyborg-ness. How might we become a subject by the addition of inanimate parts? Is, moreover, subjectivity nothing more than a compendium of the parts that we’ve added? This is interesting, indeed, but I propose that Ms. Hackler has shown us a higher way. Surely, better a cyborg than a princess; but better still the pagan priestess.< Less
  • By sharon davis
    May 14, 2010
    Despite her writing skills, Ms Hackler sounds like an intrusive auntie who visits once a year. Having no children of her own, our purveyor of sanctimony is thereby excused by her sister as simply a caring do-gooder who—for lack of experience-- hasn’t the slightest notion that children’s behaviors come in complex blends. Or might I say that the religious impulse to classify people as saints and sinners carries all of the credibility of canine, pre-human judgment? Doggie sniffing, indeed! In brief, I obtained this novel from a well-read friend whose judgments were of the purely literary sort. “How expressive…how filled with ironies and dramatic tension”! Further praise indicated that Ms Hackler crisp, clean structure had avoided that curse of youthful creativity: the obsessively over-inflated paragraph. This is indeed true, and our author must be complemented accordingly. The irritating part comes with her meta-theme. This, again, is the old canard of goodness and badness being... More > something that one might easily intuit. Yet having two young ones of my own (as my friend’s are already grown, he might be excused for having forgotten!), I struggle daily to offer them examples of how one gradually becomes an adult by both refining judgment and trying to understand others. In other words, judgment must be withheld and used sparingly; as our biggest fault as humans is to pre-judge. Organized religions that teach children otherwise should be put on notice. In short measure, one can either teach children tolerance or sanctimony. Opting for the former, I don’t wish my children to be exposed to a genre of ethical absolutism which ostensibly retards true spiritual growth. Moreover, my belief is that real dogs would agree: they have far more to do with their sense of smell than having it used the highly-extended ethical metaphor of ‘sniffing out’. SD< Less
  • By bill harris
    Oct 15, 2009
    "Making scents of Ms. Hackler" Our author is obviously an accomplished story-teller who possesses an enormous faculty of both metaphor and suspense. Please also note how she blends the tiny into the larger picture. Small wonder, then, that she's able to thematically reach accross generations. In brief, Weather the hound is able to save Christmas by sniffing out good from bad children. So It would seem as if an important question that our author raises for adults is to what extent our sensory helps us determine goodness from evil. Likewise, how are we fooled by words alone of good intent? Children who are growing into a world of language should likewise beware. The vanity of newly-aquired words and phrases take one only so far: the nose knows! This Christmas tale seems only the first of many Weather-the -hound srories proposed by Ms. Hackler. Shall she project a world? I for one anxiously await. Perhaps, as well, we'll see more development of Pip; who has the potential of... More > becoming the most famous literary cat since those of Bulgakov or Carroll. Will Lightman< Less
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Product Details

First Edition
November 16, 2008
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.53 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
8.5 wide x 11 tall
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