PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY On 'honey mine'
This inventive and substantial collection from poet and performance artist Roy (Sherwood Forest) demonstrates the author’s sharp wit and laser-eyed analysis of gender and class issues, punctuated by perspective on the realities of being a lesbian in the U.S. In “Isher House” the narrator explores a run-down historic house with her then-girlfriend and learns that neighborhood myths, like relationships, are sometimes built on fantasy. In “Lynette #1,” a crush becomes the gateway to a party world of exhilarating temptations and nested stories. Roy manipulates literary forms to suit her material, as in “Baby or Whose Body Is Missing,” originally written for a gallery performance and composed of a fractured outline describing an infant’s breast feeding along with snippets of narrative (“I was a bar dyke before all this gender-theory crap came along. I kissed and fucked like every other girl in my invisible world”). Throughout, she writes about articulating the truth of experience: “Writing a story is a little like dragging a tree out of a dark wood and then wrapping it with strings of starry lights.” Her best work mixes fact and fiction, as Roy constructs metafictional puzzles while ruminating on the past: “My histories have no accuracy to them, but they are crammed with facts.” Fans of experimental fiction should take note. (June)
PARIS Review On 'honey mine'
"What is Honey Mine?” asks Eric Sneathen, coeditor of the short story collection by Camille Roy, in an interview with the author. “Truly, I’m not sure I’ve read a book like this one before.” I’m not sure I’ve read a book like this, either. The stories in Honey Mine, which loosely follows the coming-of-age arc of a young lesbian and “explores what it takes to survive as a young sex and gender outlaw in the heart of America,” are utterly unpredictable. The various plots continually catch me off guard, but even from sentence to sentence, I can never tell what’s coming—Roy’s true staying power lies in the line. Coeditor Lauren Levin calls this phenomenon “the Camille sentence”: “Like pornography or delight, I know it when I see it. It’s often deceptively clear, but its translucency glows with obscure depths. The Camille sentence has a touch of the aphoristic, the gnomic: it prefers the suggestive to the interpretable. It’s wise and brash. Mordantly witty, it never outstays its welcome. Instead, it snaps shut on its moment, then stays open in the mind.” The Camille sentence is, in short, provocative—not necessarily in content but in the sense that the reader is poked and prodded to go somewhere they would not have otherwise gone. I find myself particularly taken with Roy’s highly self-aware and mind-bending meditations on writing. Take this short excerpt from the first story of the collection, “Agatha Letters”: “This paragraph, for instance. I think it’s a dwelling place for a sort of ghost, one who whines, craves visitors, is erotically frustrated. Into the eternal present (which is eternal because it never arrived in the first place), the hapless reader stumbles, turns around in confusion, then crashes through the rear exit. Reading is a kind of crashing through meaning—as the ghost is my witness.” Reading Honey Mine, I am constantly crashing through meaning and emerging on the other side—as the author-specter Camille Roy is my witness. —Mira Braneck
Praise for 'honey mine'
Honey Mine is one hell of a unique book. It’s a study. It disrupts the category, be it literature, fiction, the essay or the lesbian. It says: whatever you have the nerve to do, I shall also do. Honey Mine is an inspirational work.
This is a huge book; it belongs in the canon of the best queer writers. To read Honey Mine is to be inhabited by the largesse of the word “lesbian,” body, sex, sexuality. And by a lesbian aesthetic of human relations, bookended by the author’s magnificent enduring love with her late partner Angie. These fictions parade language nimble enough to absorb class, cities, memory, grief, shame, without sacrificing a cornucopia of pleasures. Like a tarte tatin, Honey Mine spills over with deliciousness.
From Camille Roy’s work, I have learned literal worlds. Fiction and fantasy function not as creative effacements of the brute facts of queer life, but as the very means by which that life innovates itself. Honey Mine takes apart the toolbox of narrative mechanisms; the aberrant languages and intimacies we use to scrape, mould, and manipulate one another. Never bowing to romanticism and yet unmistakable in its communion, this is a book that has, in many ways, seeded and re-made me. I am so grateful for it.