Introduction for Lilla Lit
August 18, 2019
by Virginia Bellis Brandabur
Gigi Little lives the perfect life. She writes essays, fiction, and an irresistible blog. She designs book covers as a freelancer and for Forest Avenue Press. She’s also created two anthologies: City of Weird, and, along with her husband, Stephen O’Donnell, The Untold Gaze. Oh, and she gets paid to hang out in Powell’s.
This enviable life is actually Gigi’s second life. In her first, she was a circus clown. This is great to know, because really, if you’re honest, you have to admit you’ve always wanted to know a circus clown. See, that’s what clowns do: they trick us into acknowledging our own desires and examining our own assumptions.
So it’s good to know about this clown thing with Gigi, because she hasn’t entirely left that bag of tricks behind. All those years she practiced making the extraordinary look ordinary and the ordinary look fabulous? They’re paying off big time in her literary life.
Take her blog, for example, a series of entries all titled, “A moment in the day,” many of which might seem to be about an ordinary moment. A woman walking her dog. Going to work without a shower. Fireworks. Ordinary. Yet Gigi has a way of making us reconsider “ordinary.” There’s the mystery of “a young woman in cat eye sunglasses, with little mini Princess Leia buns in her dark hair, standing on my lawn.” Or when Gigi muses, “There were eight clowns in the truck; how did we arrange to take showers and not walk in on each other naked?” Or the Fourth of July she spends with her dog, “in the little upstairs bathroom… on the floor with the loud fan on and the door closed… sitting on an old cushion from the couch we no longer have.” Each entry is a slight-of-hand, opening up these moments to a deeper significance: unspoken rules; all we’ve lost without even knowing; what we hang onto long after it makes no sense.
Gigi’s essays, too, reveal a nuanced understanding of the tragicomic that seems to spring from her muscle memory. In one, she likens masturbation to eating a bowl full of celery: “a lot of work that never leaves me satisfied.” In another, she tells us, “Noni was cremated. My best friend Christopher, who died when I was a kid, I think he was cremated. If I touched my tongue to their ashes and swallowed, maybe a tiny bit of them would be taken up in me.. Yes, I know I’m a vegetarian.” You can feel how Gigi shuffles our emotions all together – shame and pleasure, revulsion and desire, grief and humor – so that in the end we can’t separate one from another. And really, she seems to be asking, why would we?
In all of her writing, and in the anthologies she’s edited, Gigi makes space for us to look afresh rather than askance, to re-make our own minds up about how we want to the world to look.
Please join me in welcoming Gigi Little.