cover image Weird Girls: Writing the Art Monster

Weird Girls: Writing the Art Monster

Caroline Hagood. Spuyten Duyvil, $18 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-956005-77-6

Hagood (Ways of Looking at a Woman), a literature professor at St. Francis College, blends literary criticism and memoir in this beguiling book-length essay on motherhood and “all the ways that creative women can be viewed as monstrous.” Hagood’s fascination with “brilliant but difficult women” began with her childhood interest in the Wicked Witch of the West. She subsequently examines “monstrous” women across time, art, and literature: there’s Mary Shelley’s thrilling metaphor for creation in Frankenstein, Lady Gaga’s talk of being pregnant with an album and deeming her fans “Little Monsters,” and the Weird Sisters in Macbeth, who “play with conventional notions of gender.” Objecting to the ways women’s art has been rejected as inferior “pain narratives” by “sad girls,” Hagood makes a case for reclaiming women’s artistic impulses and “taking back the art monster from men”; as well, she wishes for her motherhood to feed her art and vice versa, in defiance of the long-held “notion of domesticity and artistry as being mutually exclusive.” Her skillful construction, astute observations, and candid personal confessions will draw readers in: “both the creative and the monstrous lived beyond the borders of what is thinkable,” Hagood writes, “and that was exactly where I wanted to go.” This one packs a punch. (Nov.)