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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 13, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 37
An interview with author Carley Moore about The Not Wives ahead of her appearance with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore at Elliott Bay Book Company on Sunday, Sept. 22
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An interview with author Carley Moore about The Not Wives ahead of her appearance with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore at Elliott Bay Book Company on Sunday, Sept. 22

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

CARLEY MOORE
THE NOT WIVES
FEMINIST PRESS
WITH MATTILDA BERNSTEIN SYCAMORE
ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY
September 22 @ 3pm


NOTE FROM ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY:
Carley Moore joins Elliott Bay Book Company (1521 10th Ave. on Capitol Hill) Sunday afternoon, September 22 @ 3pm to read from The Not Wives (Feminist Press) a novel of sex-positive awakening and burgeoning political resistance, set in Occupy-era New York City.

'The Not Wives is gritty, sexy, very queer, literary social realism that's up-all-night compelling - just what I want from a novel set in NYC in the time of Occupy, with its sprawling cast of adjuncts, bartenders, poets, single parents, little kids, homeless teenagers, and serious organizers embroiled in various romantic and economic complications. When we say report back, this is what we mean!' - Andrea Lawlor

Carley Moore is an essayist, novelist, and poet whose previous books include 16 Pills (Tinderbox Editions) and The Stalker Chronicles (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux).

Carley Moore will appear in conversation with Seattle writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author most recently of Sketchtasy (Arsenal Pulp) and of The Freezer Door, to be published in 2020 by Semiotext(e).


I chatted with Carley Moore via phone recently. She is charmingly unaffected and honest and overly careful about offending everyone (in a good way). Her voice surprisingly sounds much younger than her writing style suggests. She's funny and smart and someone I'd like to share a bottle of wine with. I bet and hope The Not Wives is not her last novel.

Scott Rice: Why no semi-colons?

Carley Moore: I guess I'm an em-dash writer. I like lists and clarifying passages and I wanted to use the em-dash and comma to recreate the breakneck pace of NYC, of running around in 2011, and of Stevie's somewhat manic life which is too packed with many jobs, parenting, her friends, and activists. So the semi-colon is just not the punctuation for this book.

Scott Rice: Is The Not Wives erotica?

Carley Moore: I have great respect for erotica writers and that genre, so I don't want to claim anything, but it is an erotic book with a lot of juicy sex. For me that's a feminist, sex-positive queer move. In a time when women and queer people's bodies are being policed more than ever, I wanted to write a book with real, matter of fact, sex in it. Pleasure is so necessary right now.

Scott Rice: Is sex a political act for Stevie?

Carley Moore: Definitely as I wrote above. She uses sex to find herself and to figure out her life. She also uses sex like a drug and as a means of escape. We don't see a lot of sexual parents in literature, especially moms, and that mattered to me, because I know so many vibrant sexy, moms and they need their own books.

Scott Rice: There are a number of threads and themes running throughout The Not Wives: parenting, family, relationships, active/passive behavior, financial institutions, education institutions, activism, digital communication, and dating. What was it like to weave those through the story?

Carley Moore: The book, like many books, came together through many drafts, at least six or seven, so the weaving happened over time and over the drafting process. Originally, the whole book was from Stevie's perspective, but in later drafts, I gave Mel and Johanna their own third person chapters, because I wanted the book to be bigger and tell multiple stories.

Scott Rice: It works. The multiple perspectives serve to complicate the bigger ideas. The setting is specific to a time and a place. The story couldn't have happened anywhere else or at any other time. What drew you to Zuccotti Park circa 2011?

Carley Moore: Like many New Yorkers, especially artists, teachers, and writers, I was drawn to the promise of a kind of utopian space. I was very taken with the organization and scale of Occupy. The working groups, the People's kitchen, the People's Library, the signs, and the General Assembly meeting everyday with its mic check and call and response. It seemed to give voice to people this country had been ignoring - the working class, students, women, people of color, anyone with debt. I also like takeovers of public space as political action. They can be incredibly effective (as we're seeing in Hong Kong right now) if the numbers are big enough.

Scott Rice: Paige the yoga mom and her posse will seem familiar to Seattleites. You treat this character and her posse fairly sympathetically. Tell us about them?

Carley Moore: I love Paige. She's an amazing PTA mom and she raises a ton of money for the public school her kids go to. I think of Paige as more of a personal trainer mom (she's doing burpees when Stevie sees her) than a yoga mom. I do yoga and it's helped me survive a lot of mental health related struggles. Paige is a little clueless though, she doesn't get that everyone might not have the money or energy that she does and so I wanted to tap into that. She's a little bit Sheryl Sandberg (lean in) when a lot of women are too tired to even stand up and don't have nannies or personal trainers or any of it.

Scott Rice: What advice would you give Paige in 2019?

Carley Moore: Protest. Go with Stevie to Occupy and step outside of your bubble to see what other folks need, not just in your community, but outside of it.

Scott Rice: I write for a queer paper, and the gay real estate developer who is dripping with money will also be familiar to Seattleites. What advice would you give him?

Carley Moore: Buy a round of drinks for the bar and maybe build some affordable housing!

Scott Rice: Why is it so difficult to get the 99% to hold Wall Street accountable? I mean most of us are one illness or an employment disruption away from financial ruin, and yet we aren't pouring into the streets and striking. What's up?

Carley Moore: I wish I knew. I teach a course on Youth Activism and this question comes up a lot. I have some hunches. I think many Americans are just too overworked and scared to protest and that's legit. People who fear ICE cannot just join a protest and take to the streets. I also think police brutality and crackdowns over the course of the last fifty years on protesters has put a dent in what folks see as possible, though Black Lives Matter has really changed the conversation. Lastly, I think we as Americans need to get more comfortable with the idea of strikes, of disrupting our lives, of letting things get messy. There are lots of protests happening everywhere. I love what Rise and Resist is doing in NYC and what Puerto Ricans just accomplished by taking to the streets, but white American needs to step up.

Scott Rice: Why are there no African American characters? Everyone else is there.

Carley Moore: Actually, there are. Stevie hooks up with and dates two different African Americans in the book. There is also Marissa, the nurse who works at Occupy and is a big part of Stevie's time there. Lastly, there are nods to African American wives in many of the 'Wives' sections of the book. Though none of these characters are major characters, they are a part of the fabric of Stevie's world, which I hope comes across as very mixed.

Scott Rice: Will there be a sequel? Will we get to see Sasha as she starts college?

Carley Moore: Yes, lol, writing it right now.

Scott Rice: Who are you interested in as a presidential candidate for 2020?

Carley Moore: Warren for now, but I'll get behind anyone who can beat Trump. I hope we all will.

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My Son, the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy - An interview with Brad Zimmerman
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An interview with author Carley Moore about The Not Wives ahead of her appearance with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore at Elliott Bay Book Company on Sunday, Sept. 22
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Sketchtasy is metamodern navel-gazing at its best
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The ghosts of Occupy Wall Street are lurking in The Not Wives
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Is God Is channels mythology
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A wild night with the women who rock - Heart, Joan Jett (w/special guest, Elle King) shake the Tacoma Dome
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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Women run the world - Chelsea Stardust on the female-driven euphoria of directing horror-comedy Satanic Panic
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Uneven Goldfinch a visually rich and emotionally intimate melodrama
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