Saving the girl : a creative reading of Alice Sebold’s Lucky and The Lovely Bones

Kilby, JE ORCID: 2018, 'Saving the girl : a creative reading of Alice Sebold’s Lucky and The Lovely Bones' , Feminist Theory, 19 (3) , pp. 323-343.

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Although Alice Sebold abandoned the writing of what would turn out to be her phenomenally successful novel The Lovely Bones in order to write her 1999 rape memoir Lucky, it is not possible to separate them, and thereby split fact from fiction, as, indeed, critics have argued, more generally, for decades. At issue, then, is Sebold’s claim that she stopped writing her novel because she did not want Susie [Salmon, the novel’s narrator] doing “work for her”, but rather wanted her free “to tell her own story”. Lucky would be the “real deal” about rape, which many acknowledge it is. The Lovely Bones would be a fantasy, which many condemn it as. And yet, the memoir and novel are similar in many respects; and nearly identical to begin with: The Lovely Bones opens with the rape, murder and mutilation of a young girl -Susie; while Lucky opens with reference to the girl who was raped, murdered and mutilated in the tunnel Sebold was also raped in; a girl, Sebold maintains, who always haunts her. How, then, this article asks, does one text haunt the other, and, how does the intertextuality of Sebold’s novel and memoir, and, more broadly, the interrelationship of truth and fantasy, change our reading of rape testimony? In answer to this question, this article will argue for the importance of a ‘creative’ reading practice and in so doing address whether it is possible to bear witness to the pain and suffering of others without ‘denial, repression, nostalgia, melancholy, a too insistent piety, soothing representation; and without, above all endless, life-defeating neurosis’ (Cantor, 1992: 56).

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Feminist Theory
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 1464-7001
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Jane Kilby
Date Deposited: 31 May 2017 14:03
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 22:03

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