Malaysia Star, Malaysia -
... to Courtney Love, in an interview in her Manhattan bedroom where the decor mixes Iggy Pop posters with books by her literary heroes, Vladimir Nabokov and Oscar ...
Suburban teen angst
Inspired by Lolita, a New York teenager publishes her first novel, writes CLAUDIA PARSONS.
AT 18, Amanda Marquit has quite a resume – child ballet star, accomplished on the piano and electric guitar and she has just published her first novel, Shut the Door, a story of teen sex and parental neglect.
“I just had a book signing that was really great,” said the teenager, who bears a passing resemblance to Courtney Love, in an interview in her Manhattan bedroom where the decor mixes Iggy Pop posters with books by her literary heroes, Vladimir Nabokov and Oscar Wilde.
Marquit’s main concerns a month after her novel hit the shelves are passing her mid-term exams in the final year of high school and getting into a good college.
Marquit was reading Nabokov’s Lolita, the controversial story of a middle-aged paedophile’s relationship with a 12-year-old girl, when she started writing the short story that eventually became a novel. She was writing to pass the time while she was lonely at summer camp at the age of 14.
“It was weird because I realised I was Lolita’s age pretty much as I was reading this and it was disturbing. But I was totally in awe of the prose so I really wanted to get through it,” Marquit said. “It was a huge inspiration to me.
“Not necessarily a literal inspiration but I just remember being completely stunned at its beauty and power.”
“Obviously there’s a difference between Lolita and the characters in my book,” she added. “My characters are a bit older and they’re not so manipulative. But definitely there is this thing about being youthful and using that as power.”
Shut the Door has not made a big splash, though there has been some media coverage.
“Marquit is at least as talented as fellow precocious teen author Nick McDonell, but like Twelve this is more youthful feat than fully fledged fiction,” was the verdict of a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.
Though nowhere near as racy as last year’s publishing sensation 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed by Italian teenage author Melissa P, Shut the Door may shock some.
The 16-year-old Lilliana seeks comfort in casual sex and cutting herself with razors while her 17-year-old sister is persuaded to perform a sexual act she finds revolting on another girl, watched by some boys.
“It’s not a comment on the American teenage archetype at all,” Marquit said. “It’s not about saying all teenagers are experimenting with sex or drugs or self mutilation. It’s about pinpointing it in these particular characters.”
She and her father, a fund manager, are at pains to make clear the story is not autobiographical despite, or because of, the dedication, which reads: “To Mom, Dad, and Adam, for being the family upon which this book is based – just kidding.”
Imagine all the people
The author has a 16-year-old brother who wants to play baseball for the New York Yankees and her mother is a bond trader. Their apartment in Manhattan’s upscale Upper East Side has a baby grand piano in the living room and modern art on the walls, a far cry from the suburban setting of her novel.
They may not be muses, but her parents certainly helped in Marquit’s success by contacting a friend who happened to be a literary agent in New York once her book was completed. The agent liked it and found a publisher. Simple as that.
Marquit’s father, Richard, says his daughter was artistic from an early age – winning a role in the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker at eight before she decided she was more of a writer than a dancer.
She plans to keep writing but is not under contract with her publisher St Martin’s to produce anything else. An agent is representing the book to a number of people in Hollywood, her father says, but the priority for the moment is college.
And if being a novelist doesn’t work out, Marquit may turn to music journalism – a subject that brings out the teenager in the slight woman with dyed blonde hair and heavy eyeliner.
Asked about her resemblance to the singer and widow of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, she said: “I wouldn’t call myself a Courtney Love fan but I totally think her band (Hole) was awesome.”
It is the first time she uses the word awesome. – Reuters