Posts Tagged ‘Gail Wilhelm’

A brief song sung in a minor key is the musical equivalent of this slender offering presented in understated and mannered prose by Gail Willhelm in this stylistically elliptical unfolding of girl meets girl.
It could be claimed that Willhelm dwells rather a little too lingeringly on the ethereal beauty of her protagonist Morgan T, who is almost wraithlike in her lack of corporeality. A tall, slender, pale light haired woman of few words who sustains herself on coffee and cigarettes and to the exclusion of food except for an olive which she only bites but fails to eat.
Willhelm presents Morgen’s feelings as being too deep for words.
She is the sole companion of her valetudinarian father with whom she has lived all her life with almost no other human contact.
Willhelm leaves unexplained all the mundane details of life such as how food appears in the refrigerator, or how the bills are paid.
The first three quarters of the book are about Morgen’s rather drily sterile relationship with her would-be fiancé Royal, who falls slightly hysterically – but unrequitedly in love with her.
The book has a few non-sequitors for which I think the reader is supposed to supply the connective sense by reading between the lines. This may equally have been an oversight as a writerly assertion of a style that is based on lacunæ and omission.
The appearance of Toni as a ‘dea ex machina’ carries the plot to its restrainedly optimistic ending, and this is a fortunate relief for what could have been an unendurably substance-less plot.
The portrait on the back cover of Willhelm herself, a darkly sculpted androgynous profile of chiseled features and a passionately still gaze, is one of the most dramatic things about the book. Her description of Toni ( I had wrongly supposed that the substitution of ‘i’ for ‘y’ in women’s’ names was a modern affectation ) could easily be a stand in for her own strikingly handsome dark hair and intense gaze.
The theme, that it is hopeless and misguided to expect that heterosexuality can be anything but hollow and unnatural to a Lesbian, seems obvious on the face of it, but the unspoken rule is that it can never be believably rejected without giving it every possible opportunity to take.
Nevertheless, after what was tried is found to be not true, we may permit ourselves to expect a tremulously happy ending.


Gail Wilhelm and her partner of 40 years Helen Hope Rudolph Page

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