Before I get into the business of telling you why you should buy and read Lauren Dixon’s story collection, Welcome to the Bitch Bubble (and oh, how I love that title), there’s a certain elephant in the room to be addressed: namely that Lauren Dixon is my sweet Dr Bae, the love of my life, and my romantic and domestic cohabitee. How can I not but be biased?
And of course I am. But what you may not realize is that we knew each other for years before we ever kissed or even thought about it. We were in a critique group together, a sort of vicious writers’ circle where drafts are submitted and then vivisected in front of their proud, anxious parent, in the hopes of the next draft coming out better.
What I mean to say is: I’ve known and respected Lauren’s work a long time. If I didn’t, we would never have gotten to the aforementioned romantic and domestic bliss.
Now, let me tell you why you should read her book.
What’s the flipside of body horror? Vagical surrealism. What’s that? Well, like surrealism, it delves into the messy unconscious, the blood and guts and organs and bile beneath the clean white surface. What distinguishes vagical surrealism is its generative force: inside this womb are monsters born, fever-dream chimeras that howl and shriek and whisper secret truths none dare speak by light of day. Wild joy, profoundest despair, love and need and desire given flesh made of words and set free in a world seen anew through their eyes. They know things, these chimeras, these creatures of word-flesh conceived and born in Dixon’s mind. If you listen, they will tell you. They’ll cut you open in all the right places and plant seeds there, seeds that’ll grow into something unknown.
Whether it’s a girl sent back in time to the Catholic laundries, a yeti passing through portals in space and time, a woman trying to hold on to her adopted, eight-legged child or connected all her life to her mother through a never-cut umbilical or exiled happily to live among pigs, the strange landscapes Dixon carries us through feel real as pain, thanks to core emotional throughlines, visceral imageries, and a fearlessness matched by very few writers of this or any era. Laid bare in her wake? The pale pillars of patriarchy, crumbled and empty, revealed as more surface than substance, mostly layer upon layer of whitewash over a shrivel-dicked core of fear at the wild possibilities of the unchecked generative power of woman and womb. And there, among the wreckage and ruin and wrack, there you’ll find Lauren Dixon, playing unashamed as an unchaperoned child, gluing ragged-edge pieces together into new shapes with her own bodily humours, shapes that seem somehow both brand new and inevitable.
I’m telling you. You gotta check this shit out. It’ll do things to you, things you won’t even realize until later, or maybe you won’t. You’ll just be changed into something different, altered by your passage through vagical surrealism’s birth canal. As someone who’s already passed through to the other side, I’m here to tell you it’s worth it.