Dream Girls Gotta Have Agency

Below is a link to my essay, “Dream Girls Gotta Have Agency,” which was recently published in Electric Literature. This essay was so much fun to write because it gave me a chance to draw on my graduate school training in literature in English, Japanese, and Spanish. While it centers on the trope of the sleeping beauty in literature, it ranges widely, touching on everything from biases in mental health care to Kawabata’s fetish for female arms and fingers and my experience as a bar hostess in Japan.

If you’re interested in the various texts I mention in the essay, here’s a reading list sure to intrigue:

Kawabata Yasunari, House of the Sleeping Beauties, The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa, Snow Country, and “One Arm”.
Sidereal and surreal, these selections span decades in Kawabata’s career and, even in translation, convey the breadth of his experiments with narrative and language.

Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Last year’s sleeper hit. (Sorry.)

Gabriel García Márquez, Memories of My Melancholy Whores.
As I write in the essay, this isn’t a book for the #MeToo era, so you might want to bypass it and go directly to his masterworks, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.

Anne Sexton, “Briar Rose”.
This poem can be found in Transformations, a haunting collection of Grimm fairy tales retold as post-Freudian, modern-day fantasies.

While you’re at it, you might rewatch Disney’s 1959 “Sleeping Beauty,” listen to Tchaikovsky’s score for the ballet, or reread the original tales by Charles Perrault and Giambattista Basile.

“Dream Girls Gotta Have Agency” was published in Electric Literature on March 12, 2019: https://electricliterature.com/dream-girls-just-wanna-have-agency-f7bd4a695243

Copyright © Cynthia Gralla, 2019