1980s teen movie star Molly Ringwald finds new success as an acclaimed author -- but can she still put lipstick on with her cleavage?
MR You know, the form came about on its own — I wrote one story, and then I was so curious about what was happening with some of the other characters, another came out, then another. I was thinking about all the ways people betray each other, and that theme guided me forward. I didn't want to do a lot of reading research while I was writing, I was afraid it would overly influence me. After it was all done, I found other linked story collections, like Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kittredge, which I loved. But there were no intentional influences on the book.
SFBG Themes of motherhood pervade the book — from Greta's chemical fertility rituals and presence of the super harvest moon in the first story, through the maternal ambivalence of Betty later on, and in between, Marina's surprise at how much she loves her child Olivia, and her struggle to accept that child's transgender identity.
MR Motherhood is obviously a huge part of my life right now, and in a way those characters define themselves by their reactions to it. Especially with Marina, I could never understand growing up how anyone could imagine a fulfilling life without wanting or having children — but of course people do. So that character lead me to live in that perspective for a while, so different from what I feel. And society really does judge women through the prism of motherhood.
SFBG You mentioned how much you admire Michel Houllebecq and love Georges Perec — both considered radical experimentalists. Would you ever write something outright experimental?
MR I would love to explore everything I can with my writing, and I do love challenging things. But I feel it still has to retain an emotional component that I can interact with — otherwise it's like super-abstract jazz fusion [Ringwald is putting out a jazz album next spring], and my brain can't handle it. I'm reading D.T. Max's biography of David Foster Wallace right now, and I can totally see where his style was coming from, but that might not be my individual path. But this is my first fiction book, so who knows? *
LITQUAKE: MOLLY RINGWALD IN CONVERSATION
Thu/6, 8pm, $12–$15
2424 Mariposa, SF