Friday, January 15, 1993

by Scott MacLeod

At one time or another, everyone dreams of being an astronaut. Wouldn't it be great to be weightless and able to fly around in the void? Imagine the view! Minnette, like a Victorian amnesiac reacting to her surroundings without cynicism, discovers Earth, which turns out to be the only planet with any sort of teen culture. Like a sort of dime-store Schreber, soul-murdered by divine messages, Minnette maneuvers herself gladly into the role of a murderess. Lots of alien teens pour onto the planet to have fun as Minnette’s hammer strikes dead flesh. Imprisoned, still constantly letter-bombed by demons, she longs to be able to keep a pen in her cell, to write letters and to walk to the post office to mail them. In her reveries, hermeneutics ensures that what Wittgenstein ironically called Beauty is related to scum. Meanwhile, alien and human teenagers, commingling, run amuck on Earth, awakening slowly into sexual cogency.

Half meat, half machinery, Minnette is always "the stranger beside me" or "everyone's next door neighbor"; "average-looking" and "just like yourself." Influenced by the media as much as by academic psychology, her boundless, offhand, extraneous and irresponsible sensibility creates a sort of “looping” effect within the bland impersonality of this world. Minnette invites us to the lethal places wavering between shock and journalism. Using endless strings of mass-media and pop-academic cliches, she takes things literally, to the letter: " Aah, I've killed people, but I'm an average-looking person with a family, job and home just like yourself, I've thought about getting professional help but how can I ever approach a mental health professional? I can't just blurt out in an interview that I've killed people. Come on to my house. Come on and do something new. I know you love one person so why can't you love two? Give a little something to my love life. Oh, give a give a give a . . . aah . . . love.”

Combining subtle tension and a crafty Story, Minnette guides the hearer into these small boxes, these "dunkeln chambers" of the human abyss, where murders, Familienverhältnisse and jealousy are on the agenda. Alternating between jaw-dropping crudity and compelling emotion, Minnette agonizes in sexual self-loathing and self-destructs in an orgy of blazing Technicolor sunsets, bombastic music, and vengeful shootouts. Whether writhing in sexual frustration or smashing herself into jagged rocks in the bloody finale, Minnette is something of an acquired taste, but one worth giving a shot if you're not afraid of grandiose extremes.

It took her a moment to spot Gabrielle, who was huddled deep in the shadows of the bushes. She sat hugging her knees tightly to her chest, her face buried against her arms. Stepping closer, Minnette could see that the golden hair was tangled with grass and matted with what appeared to be blood. Minnette closed her eyes as a shudder ran through her, and she bit her lip hard to keep from crying out. Her knees felt like water. Sinking down in the grass, she let her sword drop and buried her face in her hands. “Gabrielle?” she said softly. The whimpering stopped, but there was no other response. Minnette reached out and laid both hands on the blonde head. “Don't touch me.” Gabrielle's voice was low and ominous, like a growl. Minnette froze and then slowly withdrew her hands. Through tangles of red-gold hair, she saw the crazed light in Gabrielle's eyes, the dark bruises on her face and arms, the cut and swelling over one eye. “You should have taken care of me before,” Gabrielle said, looking up. "Why didn't you come when I needed you?" Minnette hadn't expected to see so much blood. It seemed to be everywhere, smeared over Gabrielle's breasts, stomach, and thighs. For a moment, she couldn't identify the source, but then she saw the gash in one breast. Snatching some large leaves off a nearby bush, she used them to apply pressure to the wound. While waiting for the bleeding to stop, she stood to survey the damage to their campsite. The iron cooking pot sat on the hearth, where they had left it this morning, and she could just make out the frying pan lying near the center of the room, under a half-burnt rafter. At least she would be able to retrieve those two things. Where their bed had been, however, there were only ashes now.

Minnette’s eyes brighten to a strange intensity of joy, and with the gesture of her finger and the trance-like gleam of her eye, she seems like one who watches the disappearance of some loathed and fearful creature. Finally we hear the loud musicians play the Treues Liebes Herz of Strauss. We watch the ghostly dancers spin to the sound of horn and violin. They take each other by the hand and dance a stately saraband. Sometimes they seemed to try and sing. Turning to us, Minnette drawls “The dead are dancing with the dead, the dust is whirling with the dust.” But she hears that violin, leaves our side and enters in: Minnette passes into the House of Lust.

We were traveling together in Belgium, walking through the narrow streets of Oostende when a severe thunderstorm blew in from the English Channel. We took refuge in a small antique store near an abandoned church. Minnette stood at the window and watched me for a long time before she spoke.
“What do you feel?”
“Is the thought of loving me frightening to you?”
“I understand that your vampirism means that the intimacy that we could share is very limited.”
“The danger to you is real and deadly.”
“A part of me wants to run from that.”
“But there is also a part of you that is willing to do almost anything to be with me, including becoming what I am.”
A shudder ran through her. “To become a vampire would represent the most tragic event for me.”
“I hate what I am and would never agree to bring you across. It’s insane to even think about that.”
“But I do think about it, sometimes.”