Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Carol Birch

Carol Birch's newest novel is Orphans of the Carnival.

From her Q&A with Caroline Leavitt:

I always imagine that writers are haunted by some inner question or need to write a certain novel. What sparked Orphans of the Carnival for you?

It’s true that something gets into the mind and then builds up until it reaches critical mass and demands to be written. In this case, I was haunted by Julia’s baby. Julia [actual 19th century freak show attraction, Julia Pastrana] is quite well known, her baby less so. I was very moved by his fate. It’s hard to say too much without giving away so much about the book, but because this book is more than just a simple life story, though Julia is at the heart of it, her story led me to consider such things as the meaning we invest in physical objects, particularly those that reach us from the past, laden with significance.

I love the character of Julia Pastrana. She’s a sideshow attraction who is undeniably exploited, yet she still believes in the dream of love. But the question is can she have it – and that is the wrenching heart of this novel. Who are we really to ourselves and to others. Can you talk about this please?

Julia believes in love. Famously (and this is apocryphal) she said on her deathbed that she knew she had been loved for herself alone. Most people who’ve commented on Julia and her life seem firmly convinced that this was...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue