The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North Read Free Book Online

Book: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anna North
Tags: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary Women
heart-wrenchingly out of step with anything the world will ever allow them. Marianne doesn’t hit all these notes (eager viewers will have to wait for this critic’s screenplay to be picked up, an event surely in the offing), but the way the camera crowds Marianne in her family’s tiny house captures the hemmed-in, desperate feeling underlying them better than any film I’ve seen.
    My editors at the august Daily Mongoose have recently requested that my writing be less “personal.” I do not think this is an objection to personal writing per se, as a colleague’s account of her (admittedly tragic and ultimately lost) battle with acne was met with great praise. I think it is an objection to the substance of my personal anecdotes, and thus to my life. Given this I will refrain from discussing at length how Marianne captures another aspect of small-town misery: the impossibility of escape. Being followed by a murderer from your past isn’t quite the same as having the undeniable luck to win an academic scholarship, then arriving at college to find that everyone there has had the same set of four experiences, none of which are yours, and that when you try to talk about any of your experiences you are met with either suspicion or horror and exhorted to “lighten up.” These topics are perhaps beyond the scope of Marianne , but later readers of my collected works (no doubt forthcoming within the next ten or twenty years, depending on the velocity of my rise) may find them revealing as an illustration of my perspective. In any case, leaving aside those matters apparently out of place in a paper of the Mongoose ’s stature, I will say merely that Marianne accomplishes the difficult feat of conveying deep emotion by means not generally considered emotional: the framing of a shot, for instance, or the blockingof actors in a scene. The film’s themes arise organically from the visual, rather than being forced upon the viewer through melodramatic dialogue or sentimental acting, as in many films that I could name but will not, since I already know I differ with many of my readers (and, indeed, my editors) in my opinion of them.
    In an effort to make my film reviews more conventional, I have been asked to award films “stars.” I have been told that the number of stars I assign will be printed in the paper, no questions asked. I award Marianne 3,468,994.2 stars. Note to copy desk: Please print this exact number of stars or I will be forced to conclude that the Mongoose editorial staff not only has no regard for accuracy but may not be able to count above ten.
    Editor’s note:

    SOPHIE RAISED ME, KIND OF. WE RAISED EACH OTHER. OUR DAD was dead, and our mom was just young and sad and indecisive, and one day she was into Amway and the next day she was into Jesus, and she was never that into us. Sophie taught me how to read and how to draw and how to crouch quietly in the grass behind the drugstore and spy on people, like teenagers making out and our third-grade teacher crying and once our mom looking at photos of a man we didn’t know with an expression we’d never seen before. I taught her how to boil a hot dog and clean a cut and talk to grown-ups to get out of being in trouble—she never got good at the last one, so a lot of times I had to do it for her.
    That makes it sound like we were best friends, and we were, but also she did all kinds of things I didn’t understand. She was terrible at school—she didn’t care about pleasing the teachers, and she didn’t care about fitting in, and when she was in eighth grade, she started wearing the same men’s black button-down shirt as a dress everysingle day, with a leather belt around the middle and boxer shorts underneath. The other kids called her “Crazy Emily”—she was still plain old Emily Buckley then, after our grandma—but she didn’t seem to care. I was in sixth grade then, and I’m embarrassed to admit I tried to pretend I didn’t know her; I even

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