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Sarah E Melville

Sarah E. Melville is a starving artist from the foothills near Fresno, California. She writes novels, screenplays, poetry, and short stories, some of which show up on Year Zerø Writers.

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Laura

She Is Like Your First- or Second-favorite Kind of Jam

02/03/12

Laura, by Sarah E Melville, is, by all practical accounts, a work of genius. A portmanteau of Stoker’s Dracula and Melville’s own vivid creativity, the text deftly weaves between that of our troubled, Dracula-obsessed narrator Simon and his experiences in a hospital / asylum and Stoker’s own grand, macabre text.

Like the narration, the story is meticulous: vignettes diagram the mundane day-to-day activities Simon takes part in, as well as the most trivial of observations that, to most of us, wouldn’t even register, but to him are enough to inspire detailing that inevitably leads him to feeling some sort of emotion — much as a child would — but it makes the setting and story all the more interesting and exceptional. It isn’t until Simon sees the mysterious “Laura / Not-Laura,” or, rather, “Girl-on-the-gurney,” that we begin to see him as something more human than the über-sterilized environment would otherwise have us believe. And this girl, this phantom Laura girl, becomes somewhat of an obsession with him, something to get him through the days, through the forced arts and crafts and one-sided conversations he finds so dull. She is a light to him, a reminder of being able to feel something greater, and for this reason she haunts him relentlessly.

At first it may seem odd to take Dracula, a story told so many times in so many mediums that we all know it by heart, and mesh it together with the exploits of the androgynous Simon, but it serves a very important purpose: Dracula, the story of a once-man, no longer a man, parallels what Simon has gone and continues to go through due, in part, to his gender dysphoria. And in her appraisal of the text, Miss Melville has, in her way, given us one more reason to dissect the classic text — the gradual unveiling / realizations of who Simon is keeps us on our toes as we peel back layer after layer of his troubled mind to get to the root of identity, only to question what that even means by the very end.

To write too much about this book would do a disservice to any who are thinking about picking up a copy.  The important things to take away, I suppose, are that the use of Stoker’s text heightens Melville’s own to the nth degree, and this story should absolutely place the author on a fast-track to success — her clean, simple prose along with her unabashedly great storytelling, I’m quite certain, will be the talk of the virtual town.

Laura is available in limited edition, hand-bound prints via the author’s site, and I absolutely recommend picking a copy up and supporting the habits of a truly gifted author.

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