Friday, February 17, 2006

From our Suggestions and Complaints Forms 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy psychiatrist, a Dr. xxxx xxxxxx in Rhode Island, has systematically contacted every library in the United States to bar me from accessing the internet. Please lift this restriction. If you are in league with him, then you are denying me my constitutional rights. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

I heard a bizarre interview with Gloria Naylor, the National Book Award winning author of the Women of Brewster Place, on NPR the other day. She was promoting her recently published book 1996, a fictionalized memoir of the ‘chronicle of harassment’ she withstood by a neighbor and ‘government forces’ on a sleepy little coastal island in South Carolina. According to Naylor, her ordeal began when she and her neighbor, a reclusive cat lady, had an altercation over one of the woman’s dozens of cats, a giant gray named Orwell, which kept soiling and tearing up Naylor’s garden. The cat dies when it ingests some poison Naylor put out for rats and the neighbor accuses Naylor of intentionally poisoning it. The neighbor then contacts her brother, purportedly the head of the National Security Agency, and the persecution and harassment of Naylor begins. Soon she notices an unusual and steady traffic of black cars and helicopters driving and flying past her remote corner of the island. She then suspects that someone is tapping into her computer, telephone and mail. Certain that she is under surveillance, fearful to communicate with anyone, she flees the island for New York, and then almost suffers a breakdown because she is convinced, once there, that she is being subjected to mind control.

I'm certainly no psychiatrist, but I encounter my fair share of schizophrenics on the job, and these seem like classic paranoid schizophrenic delusions to me. In the interview, Naylor continuously and unnecessarily describes the woman as Jewish, an irrelevant fact except that Jews are a bugbear for certain Southern African Americans (read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Richard Wright's Black Boy if you don’t believe me). It also seems too much of a coincidence that the cat is named Orwell. Then, of course, there are the black cars, black helicopters and mind control tactics used by a shadowy government agency. What I found most odd is that the NPR interviewer was questioning and responding to her fantastical allegations uncritically, as if there were no question that these events had really happened, rather than the obvious delusions of a mentally ill woman. Although published in December, the book is already hard to find, which makes me suspect that it had an extremely limited release. The folks at MindJustice.org believe her, though. Perhaps it was all the cat feces in her garden that caused her schizophrenia.

Here is an excerpt from 1996.

Why do you keep parking outside my house and watching me from your big black sedan? I know your have your gnomes watching me on the internets. I will confront you!

Tell me, how did that book get published? Or did they think it was fiction?
OCLC Firstsearch has it as fiction, as does our system...
The book was probably published on the strength of her prior work. In the interview, Naylor says that 1996 is a 'marginally fictionalized' account of what happened that year. If you read the excerpt, you see how she takes substantial liberties - i.e., although the book is mostly written in the first person, she slips into omniscient narration when she describes phone calls between her neighbor and her brother, the head of the NSA.

Although the events she described in the interveiew were outlandish, she was very convincing. That's what I've noticed about many schizophrenics in the library, and why they still surprise me, is that they SEEM so sane.
Naylor calls it a fictionalized memoir. This is how this, and Frey's work, should be classified. It looks like most of the major newspapers and journals declined to review it.
The weird part about the story is,to me, as a former cat owner, that cats almost always bury their feces. My cats would do anything to cover their waste.

She keeps claiming to find big piles of it on top of the ground...it doesn't add up.
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