So?

If you don’t mind I’d like to hijack this space to consider Shulamith Firesone’s Airless Spaces, which I read last night in bed. As fiction goes, it is devastating, funny and sad, full of exquisite, piercing details. It pierced my soul in particular; though my friend Kate Zambreno, who recommended it to me, had suggested that it was akin to Promising Young Women, I had no idea just how close it would feel. In fact, after reading, I asked my husband, “Is it possible to plagiarize a book you haven’t read?”

 

What did he say?

He said yes. He said that in fact there is a name for this: Anticipatory Plagiarism.

It isn’t until much later, after her second child is born, in those early months of little sleep, or short deep sleep punctuated by a scream, rolling over to offer her breast to this baby, trying to fall back to sleep but unable to do so until he finishes eating, until she knew he was asleep first, that she has the dreams.

In the first dream she is back in a hospital. She is in a group meeting. There are three others in the meeting. Others who were there. The group leader says something, and she answers. She says that she has a lot of feelings about having been there for such a long time. She tells the group that she found it terribly stigmatizing, if maybe in some ways helpful. She tells them that there have been studies, that this is now considered a very bad idea. Experts agree, she is explaining to the other patients in the dream. Experts agree that this kind of extended hospitalization, institutionalization, she calls it now–though it was never spoken of in this way, save for on the hospital letterhead used as scrap paper in art group or writing group, letterhead with the imprint of a building and in gothic font: ROCKLAND STATE PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE—is now considered to in fact impede recovery.