Review: There was a poem by the French author, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) titled, “Une Charogne (A Carcass)” that particularly struck me. It begins:
“Do you remember the sight we saw, my soul,
that soft summer morning
round a turning in the path…?”
Even when translated to English it has a distinct metre and flow. Visual, simple yet profound, it was intimate, speaking as if only to me, yet clearly had monumental breadth and might whisper to anyone. It was unforgettable after I first heard then read it. Anne de Gandt’s V.I.T.R.I.O.L. was the same.
There is a challenge in this work, however, and I found I ached to revise this precious gem as there were some errors of spelling, structure and tense that, at times, interrupted flow. V.I.T.R.I.O.L is literary fiction: setting, imagery, voice, characterization, and more, not to be confused with anything less as this would lessen its impact. Those looking for light, blasé reading, a book to pick up and put away without a second thought? Look elsewhere.
Personally, this story deeply spoke to me for it echoed expressions in my own memoir. I had to read it slowly, in increments I could understand, before I could pass on to another scene. For similar reasons, I reread it a few times drawing as much emotion as I could from the story of its words. It’s rare that a work creates in me a desire know more behind what has been presented. I knew that only reading it once wasn’t enough. For that reason, I would imagine some might find V.I.T.R.I.O.L. too cryptic, too difficult to comprehend at times, but I found it engaging far beyond average.
In the emotionally charged seventeen pages of V.I.T.R.I.O.L, there are almost whimsical views through the hideous evil people commit, the senseless brutality in their selfish desire for sexual release and power over others. Those who’ve suffer thusly will recognize and know what is being represented through imagery. Be prepared to remember parts of the rage, fear, hurt, grief, hopelessness felt after “those” times; your own personal madness in the so-called world of sanity, yet it is not a book without hope or which lacks beauty despite its serious themes. It is real is the sense of the word that this is authentic, believable, utter truth. Haunting, powerful and very, very unique. With great eagerness and curiosity I look forward to reading more of Anne de Gandt’s work.
Description: You could write a book about her life. V.i.t.r.i.o.l.’s heroine has lost the key of her past. Childhood and adolescence look like blank pages. An emptiness that is destroying her to the ruin. Until memory comes back and along with it the terrifying meaning of the word ‘inceste’.
Published April 13th 2011
To see video for this work, please visit it’s page on YouTube
About The Author
Écrivain-photographe, Anne de Gandt crée des univers où se mêlent passé et présent, rêve et réalité. Son travail est une invitation aux voyages, à travers le temps, l’espace, la mémoire, l’identité et l’espoir.
Writer-photographer, Ann de Gandt creates worlds which mingle past and present, dream and reality. She invites you to journey across time, space, memory, identity and hope.
My Interview With Anne de Gandt
What was your first published work? When was it written and/or published?
My first published work was V.I.T.R.I.O.L., in spring 2010. It has been written very shortly, in 15 days. I never thought it could be read by anyone but me, until I realize I wanted to share it with other people. I had to make it visible and discovered Smashwords. It was just what I was searching for: an easy, quick and free way to make this story available. Otherwise, the adventure would surely have stopped here.
At what age did you begin writing? What kinds of writing did you produce? Poetry, short stories? Was there any particular inspiration?
I started to write at 17. I was seeking a way to express what I wanted to say. I first tried drawing or photography, but none of them suited me completely. I discovered lately writing was the main part of the balance, and that each one was expressing something specific.
Do you have a specific genre in which you write? What are some of your themes?
Writing comes naturally, without thinking of a specific genre. Some stories are written in theatrical genre, the next ones may be written in another. I’m not sure to decide of it. What connects people between them, what makes a person come closer to another -or not-, are some of my themes. The true hero is the heart, its movements, failures, pleasures.
How would you describe your writing style? To whom would you compare your work?
Maybe it is early to speak about a writing style. I try to be true with emotions and let them lead me, more than I lead them. This can be a pleasant as far as a painfull game. One never knows where it leads. When I start to write, I’m listening to my feelings: this one, this one; maybe this one… and then, suddenly, I “jump into the water”, without knowing where it goes. I discover sometimes the story only when it’s over.
Would you tell me what books you have available?
Today, two series are available: “Aphrodite’s Gardens” shows, in a theatrical genre, how love drives us to do incredible things. Its is mainly based on stories between women, their search for love and/or happiness, their hopes, their despair. The other series includes four stories (Vitriol, Décades, Mirages, Exil) and is about the difficulty to live as an adult when you had an unhappy or difficult childhood.
From what I’ve read, some of your writing involves themes or topics some people find difficult or disturbing. Would you tell us about these books, perhaps give us the descriptions?
Vitriol is about inceste, the damages such a violence does to the body and soul. It describes the states associated with but also shows that hope is possible, after all. That’s the main point of this book and the reason I wanted to share it with others. Being raped is like living with the seeds of evil: beyond violence, there are feelings such like hate, anger or despair that silently walk their line inside you, until they completely destroy you, as far as your life. This process can be stopped, providing that you face your deep demons and most of all, your fears.
Décades is about desire, and the difficulty to live together once the fire decreases. Is it possible to keep the intensity of the first moments, and how? Living together for women or men is submitted to such a pressure that sometimes, I have the feeling it is what destroys a lot of gay/lesbian couples.
Mirages speaks about illusions. Who are we really despite of our jobs or social appearance? What do we search for? What defines us? Through this story I tried to tell how we may lose ourselves in this process.
The last one, Exil is the continuous of Vitriol. Being pregnant at 15 is irreversibly destructive and disturbing, but also leads to another level of being. Maybe it’s the most sorrowfull story of the four.
For myself, I realize some topics can be difficult but they are also important. Would you tell us your motivations for writing on sensitive themes?
Speaking of difficult topics is part of the life. Facing our fears, our deep desires or our bounds helps in finding who we really are. Throughout these stories, I tried to show that even in darkness, there is light. In fact, it is this light I want to speak of. Telling dark stories is a way to speak of the light inside. Its brightness is not the same.
You also have a series titled “Aphrodite’s Gardens”. What you tell about your theme and characters?
“Aphrodite’s Gardens” is about love. The game of love. Between women, but not only. Persephone is the main character, and lately, Eumene, her partner. Through their meetings, they discover some dimensions they would have not seen otherwise. Persephone is about the quest of love; Pandora speaks of revenge, desire and possession; Lorelei is about loneliness, doubt and freedom inside a couple.
Do you currently have any writing projects or works in progress?
Pallas, still in progress, speaks about identity, adultery and its consequences inside a couple. Another series, very different of the first ones, is coming soon.
My French is rather basic these days, and my lessons long ago. Do you have any plans for translations into other languages?
I plan to translate these stories soon or later in english. I’m working on it.
You are also an independent publishing author. What made you publish independently at Smashwords versus publishing with a traditional publishing house?
Smashwords gave me a freedom I would never have found otherwise. Suddenly, my book became real, was freely distributed in main retailers and could be read by others. It’s like a game and the rules at Smashwords are both fun and fair. Where most of publishers would have said “no” or take a charge for the process, Smashwords says “yes!”. It is like a wide-open door. Writing becomes available to anybody. I love this idea.
What good things have you experience with independent publishing? Have you had any problems?
Meeting other people is the good side of the experience. For my part, I havent’ met any problem, only good surprises.
Would you suggest other authors self-publish? Why or why not? How did you discover Smashwords?
Self-publishing gives the means to make a dream come true. I can only encourage authors to self-publish what they write, even if they must be aware that it does not mean selling immediately. It’s a long but fascinating and full of interest process where you learn a lot about yourself as far as the others.
Do you have any works in process you might wish to share description of with readers? Stories you are working on now?
Besides Pallas, from “Aphrodite’s Gardens”, another series is about to begin: how do we find the light I mentionned above? It’s a journey, a long, terrifying but wonderful journey. I cannot tell more. Follow my website in the very next months…
Red Haircrow’s Note:
I consider it a privilege to have made the acquaintance of Ms. de Gandt, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. Primary thanks goes to the Smashwords website where Mark Coker gave me the opportunity to post information about my review and interview site, and Anne contacted me. Without that, I might never have had the pleasure.
Thanks again Anne de Gandt, very best wishes and good luck in all your work.