With One Eye Open
by Polly Frost
started exploring 'releasing' techniques back in the late ‘80s,
when I realized that I’d been working on my first novel for
fourteen years and had only committed two sentences to paper."
Reviewed by Elizabeth Rutherford-Johnson
Frost’s collection is a restless medley of media: spoof self-help
manuals lie side-by-side with begging letters from theatrical groups.
Nothing I can write here will successfully convey the delicious
weirdness of a picture of an iPod dog (My
or the surreal inventiveness of a script proving that one of the
characters is a figment of the other’s imagination (Tabloid
The different pieces are
characterised by an exciting and sometimes unsettling inventiveness.
Expectations are constantly played with, and from piece to piece
you’re never sure what you’ll get next. Frost uses her own name
freely as the basis for a variety of constructs on which to display
these satires. According to pieces in this collection, Miss Polly
Frost is variously addicted to diagnosing the personality disorders
of her family and friends, a conversational artist, a theatrical
patron and/or con artist, a chaotically compelling data subject. How
much of this is true? All or none? It doesn’t matter. The Polly
Frost here is a constructed character, as cleverly put together as
each of her clever, pieces.
of these pieces are pointed – Mommyblog
is a deliberate poke at a particular phenomenon and, possibly, a
pretty easy target. Others are less obvious. Friends
in Paradise is
a lyrical almost poetic piece that serves as a dig on "those"
sorts of people who are never satisfied, but then loops round to trap
the reader: we are all exactly "those" sorts of people. It’s
works as a gentle and perceptive look at human nature: our refusal to
ever rest easy, to be satisfied with what we have and to recognise
paradise when we’re there.
most successful pieces for me are deliberately zeitgeisty. Reblock
Yourself the Polly Frost Way
is aimed at those for whom self-publication and social media are too
irresistible a temptation; for people who "ran multiple WordPress
blogs…dashed off rants about the New York City book publishing
world, sharing them on Scribd as downloadable PDFs." Goodbye,!
dissects the real anxieties behind banal behaviour.
"I can’t just
write 'Happy Birthday!' anymore on a friend’s Facebook page,
because the person before me has written 'Happy Birthday !!!!!!'
What? – the recipient will think – she’s too half-hearted to
hold the key down?" Deliciously silly, it also pinpoints things we
have all done, laying bare our fears in the brave new social media
world. Pieces like this are so light they could almost float away,
but the sting comes in recognising those parts of ourselves, as
writers or readers, that are being so effectively lampooned.
short fiction has appeared in Mslexia, LITRO,
The New Writer and pulp.net, among others. Currently she is
working on a radio play about Polish history, absent fathers and
drinking coffee with the devil.