I wrote So Much Pretty because I wanted to talk about family and community and the ways in which things that have become familiar to us are often not what they seem, are rife with meanings that elude our selective senses, that turn us into unwitting accomplices, secret sharers of observable but unspeakable things. Our desires for security, or belonging or freedom can suddenly become the weight that sinks us.
I wrote So Much Pretty because I wanted to discuss how well meaning people are often complicit in destroying the things they most want to preserve.
Michelle Mann, a minor character in the book is known for quoting Orwell to her friends: The duty of every intelligent person, she says, is to pay attention to the obvious.
In the year and a half it took me to write So Much Pretty I was paying attention to violence in women’s lives and the demoralization of men’s characters that rang like a continuous ambient hum in the air. Josef Fritzl, Jaycee Dugard, The Craigslist Killer, the woman found dead in the trailer ten miles from my apartment, the high profile cases and the small local cases, the women and girls worldwide raped, molested or killed by strangers, and always--the three women a day, every day, all year long who are killed in the United States by their boyfriends or husbands.
The hum of these events, their cultural cache, the titillation and entertainment value that causes news outlets to run bikini pictures of a woman who was set on fire by her boyfriend, caused me to sit and think for a very long time about what, exactly, we are looking at, when we are looking at men and women. What are the things we all know and prepare for and warn our children about that we do not allow ourselves to act upon, or speak about in our day to day lives?
I wrote So Much Pretty because I love men. And because I have a son and believe there is no greater responsibility in the world, no social justice project as significant or worthwhile than raising a rational, capable, and peaceful man.
I wanted to address the greatest fear of every parent- that your child might be hurt or that your child might hurt someone--and I wanted to address the denial, the terror and shame riddled voice that reduces something as horrific as the loss of a daughter to a stubborn and possessive refrain: not in my country, not in my town, not in my family, not in my heart.
Thank you for reading.
SO MUCH PRETTY