My university put on a stage presentation of this book a couple times, but I was never able to attend. Having read them now, I think it would be really powerful to see these stories performed live. From what I gather on the V-Day website, Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is presented quite often (usually in February, because Valentine’s Day = V-Day…get it?) so take a look if that’s something you’re interested in. In the meantime, check out this collection of essays:
Title – A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer: Writings to stop violence against women and girls
Author – multiple; edited by Eve Ensler
Page count – 189
As I said before, this book is actually a collection of essays by various authors, playwrights, activists, directors, entertainers, and regular people. I didn’t really get why it was divided into the four sections (Memory, Monologue, Rant, Prayer). But there is plenty of variety in the types of writing to keep it interesting – essays, poetry, conversations, monologue, letters…and while some are explicitly non-fiction, I have a feeling many of the stories presented as just that – stories – actually contain nuggets of truth.
Honestly, I sort of steeled myself for reading this book because I assumed the stories would mostly be sad. I mean, how can stories about violence ever have a happy ending? I’m glad I was wrong. Yes, there are many stories in this collection that end the way you would expect stories about violence to end – with heartbreak, pain, shame, and death. But sometimes they would end with escape, redemption, new beginnings, and hope.
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of “Celia” by Edwidge Danticat. It is inspired by a true story about a woman trying to escape her abusive husband in Guatemala. *Spoiler alert* It doesn’t have a happy ending, but it is one of the most powerful, at least for me.
“No puedo respirar. I can’t breathe…Ay, dios mio, we’re still not in Brownsville. That’s where the coyotes told us we’d end up if we got into this thing. This big coffin. This container. They told us they’d help us cross the border. They said they’d find a place with no migra and no vigilantes. Ay, bless us, madre del dios, holy mother of God, it is so hot…(She shakes two of the women closest to her.) Flaca, Mira. ¡Levantese! Wake up! ¡Todos despierta! Everybody, wake up! (No one wakes up.) They don’t wake up…”