Magick spells and inverted fairy tales combat queer scapegoating, domestic violence, and high-interest student loans.
Cashing into the dream that education is the road out of poverty, a teen mom takes a chance on bettering herself, gets on welfare rolls, and talks her way into college. But once she’s there, the phallocratic story of “overcoming” permeates every subject. Creative writing professors depend heavily on Freytag’s pyramid to analyze life. So Ariel turns to a rich subcultural canon of resistance and failure, populated by writers like Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Gloria Anzaldúa, Tillie Olsen, and Kathy Acker.
Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, We Were Witches documents the survival of a demonized single mother. She’s beset by custody disputes, homophobia, and America’s ever-present obsession with shaming odd women into passive citizenship. But even as the narrator struggles to graduate—often the triumphant climax of a dramatic narrative—the question lingers uncomfortably. If you’re dealing with precarious parenthood, queer identity, and debt: What is the true narrative shape of your experience?
We Were Witches by Ariel Gore
The Feminist Press 2017