Inspiration for writing Gabriela and The Widow
by Jack Remick
In one way or another, fiction is autobiographical but the story doesn’t have to be, as they blare out on TV, “based on a true story.” It’s the other way around—the novel, the fiction becomes part of the author’s autobiography. The novel is an expression of being. The author puts a writer into every story and that writer is the narrator. For Gabriela and the Widow, the autobiographical stimulus, call it the impulse to write, came when I visited my mother to celebrate her 92nd birthday.
For the last few years, my mother’s caregiver has been Gabriela. I watched as Gabriela fed her, dressed her, bathed her, combed her hair and put her to bed. But for Gabriela, this wasn’t just a job. She had a connection to my mother that was true, real, and honest. She didn’t change her behavior for my visits. She didn’t coo and perform, so I knew that what I saw was the real Gabriela and the real Mother. And there was something deeper. I realized that this was an archetypal relationship—not of Master and Servant, but Mother and Daughter.
I wanted to write, I didn’t want to write a memoir. The memoir is just one story. Gabriela and my Mother were The Story. So, the writing had to be a fiction that would look at not a single relationship, but all relationships between Mother and Daughter. I knew I had to write a myth.
I set out, then, to write about two women. One an immigrant, Gabriela, on a journey to the North, the other a dying old woman, a Widow who lives in the desert. I was drawn to the subject of the collision of cultures that is ripping America apart right now, but I also wished to examine how women relate without men. The Widow remakes Gabriela in her own image and sets her free from her bloody past. In this excerpt The Widow (in the novel, she is La Viuda) tells Gabriela the creation myth from The Cosmology:
In the beginning, she birthed the world but she was unhappy because the darkness was everywhere and it was not enough that only she saw it. Why, she asked herself, have I made all of this just for me to see? In the blackness, she tore a gash, the Mother Gash, and from it, there came blood and water, milk and honey, trees and birds of all colors and then came the skies and the stars. She brought women from the darkness and set them naked in the sun and the trees and there was no shame and in the sun their skin browned—look at you—and she was content with what she had brought forth. But then, one day, she made a small mistake and a woman was born with a penis and without breasts. She had created an Almost Woman. The penis, her big mistake, made women cover themselves because in the penis there was a craziness that she didn’t understand, that no woman understood. She knew only that she had made a mistake and that imperfection brought with it shame and desire and pain. Not even she could undo creation. Like the spider’s silk, once broken, it can’t be retied. Once infection entered her world, there was no way to go back. And because that one mistake brought us misery we have been lamenting it ever since. Here and there, we see pieces of what used to be—females who don’t need males…lizards and fish who bring young out of the darkness in perfect harmony. And every day, when the sun comes up, there is a moment of perfect stillness that mirrors the perfection of the pure state before…men.
La Viuda sat in silence for a long time before she continued—Your shame, mi vida, is not yours alone. We all feel it because it is our duty to atone for her mistake. Do you understand? Men were not meant to be. Do you understand?
Gabriela and the Widow is the story of Gabriela, a 19 year old Mexican woman who migrates north (to El Norte) where she meets a dying 92 year old woman, The Widow. The novel is their story.
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Places available for sale:
Gabriela and The Widow is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com. After January 15, 2013, it will also be available in multiple eBook and 6x9 trade paperback editions on BN.com, the European Amazons and Amazon Japan.
Wholesale orders can be placed through firstname.lastname@example.org Baker & Taylor or Ingram. Libraries can also purchase books through Follett Library Resources or Midwest Library Service.
Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer and novelist. In 2012, Coffeetown Press published the first two volumes of Jack’s California Quartet series, The Deification and Valley Boy. The final two volumes will be released in 2013: The Book of Changes and Trio of Lost Souls. Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, in 2011. You can find Jack online at http://jackremick.com
You can find out more about Jack Remick, his books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/akw7kk6
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Author page: http://jackremick.com
Publisher Website: http://CoffeetownPress.com
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I will be sharing my thoughts on Gabriela and the Widow February 5th here on The Writing Mama, but until then...check out the video of Jack reading the first chapter of the book.