Beverly Dahlen lives in San Francisco. A Reading 1 - 7, recently published by Momo's Press, is the first book-length installment of the on-going work of that title, though selections have appeared in various journals over the past five years. Ironwood 27 contains critical appraisals of A Reading as well as of earlier work, includes hitherto unpublished excerpts from A Reading, and reprints The Egyptian Poems.
WORKING NOTES, BEVERLY DAHLEN:
This piece is out of order. It began as a recollection of the moment of betrayal upon which my adult life is founded. But autobiographical recollection quickly leads to narrative, and narrative reminds one of fiction. I found myself almost immediately attempting to write some version of the sentence as perfected by the great English women novelists of the 19th century. Shortly thereafter the piece turned into Wuthering Heights. Why? It has to do with the perfect symmetry of that book's structure (the 'mirroring'), and with the distance of the narrator's (Nelly Dean's) voice. The passionate and melancholic recollection must remain outside, storied, as all founding events must seem not so much lived as immediately seized upon by myth in order to displace them from history, but also to account for the events which arise from them. Of all events, the founding event is a fiction, static and inevitable. Whatever else A Reading may be, it is not fiction. It is in this sense that Wuthering Heights is out of place within A Reading.