Posted by Sandy Brahaspat, GD CNF Reader for 8.1
On October 4th, SUNY Geneseo Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, Dr. Lytton Smith, hosted the first Fall semester’s Literary Forum Reading and introduced Buffalo-based writer, Christina Milletti, author of Choke Box: A Fem-Noir and winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction in 2019.
In her reading of her latest novel, Milletti described Choke Box: A Fem-Noir as a rant about the dangers of silencing the voices of women. Milletti’s novel is ardently feminist and contains distinguishable lines that remain with the reader: “Women, don’t trust the men in your lives, and trust the women even less.” Without giving too much away, the protagonist of her novel Jane Tamlin writes a secretive, counter-memoir in response to her missing husband’s memoir while being institutionalized at none other than the Buffalo Psychiatric Institute (fun fact: this historical building was recently renovated into the elegant Hotel Henry.) Milletti uses the term “fem-noir” to contrast Jane’s project from her husband’s project and perspective.
If you haven’t yet picked up Choke Box: a Fem-Noir, perhaps these glowing reviews may serve as an incentive. In a stellar review of her novel, Publisher’s Weekly declares “Milletti’s debut” as a “bracing cri de coeur against the silencing of women’s voices . . . Milletti is always entertaining in her dismantling of the madwoman in the attic trope, making for a sharp, playful novel.” Indeed, after reading various parts of her novel, Milletti opened the floor for questions. When inquired about her research process, she confessed to having been influenced by gothic stories written about women, citing her fascination with the madwoman in the attic and referencing Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
In another glowing review, the American Book Review celebrates Milletti’s usage of “the tropes of crime fiction, psychological thrillers, and chick lit” and her ability to “turn a complex, feminist critique into a dark page-turner . . . Choke Box is an invitation to a shadowy world where all speech is suspect, and the perpetrator may be the story itself.” In our current political climate, novels like Choke-Box that highlight the silenced and oppressed voices of women are extremely important. If there’s anything Milletti’s reading taught me, it is that we ought to listen to and believe in each other, because just the simple act of validation can turn a life around.
Thus, I urge you, dear reader, to purchase Milletti’s latest novel, Choke-Box: A Fem-Noir, and see for yourself the haunting complexities of her narrative while the weather remains gloomy and All Hallows Eve lurks around the corner. You’re in for a treat!
Link to Christina Milletti’s webpage: https://www.christinamilletti.com