Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The stories of Scorpion Wine are written in my own shadow. Each story began with the memory of a place that makes up a past---the desert of my birth, the beach of my childhood, the city of my adolescence, and the country of my second tongue, that of my blood. And from these places characters came out of the ghosts of faces. But as with any timestamp that is now far away, and any face that is now merely a silhouette, the details of the stories, the contours, the words, this is all fiction. I approached each story here from afar. The characters existed in a mirage--the brutal heat of high desert, the early mist of Pacific calm, the smoggy lust of city---and though I knew how their fates would construct my creation, it is only when I was engulfed myself in the mirage myself that I understood the end. As a writer, endings are important to me and with each line of prose I lay at rest on the page, I deliberate its truth so as to free myself and my characters in our finale, the story. Of course sometimes the mirage is not sprung from a place at all but from a line in a newspaper clipping. In Tokyo, it is not uncommon for certain lonely individuals to rent a cat for a night. Why? The explanation is in RentACat. The cat of the story is based on my own cat Flashlight, who happens to be my most loyal and encouraging desk mate. He is the model for the story, I the painter. He posed, I observed, and tried to most faithfully depict his long hours of slumber, the way his tongue whips against his fur, the way his claws come out in stretch, then retract, the way his ears when I curl them back stick there for a moment, then pop back up. The Tourist had a less animate model--a picture I took on the Blue Coast of Turkey in a small fishing town by Kalkan. By the docks, tucked between haphazard buildings pressed against each other of varying heights, and minimal width, there is a small alley with the sign to the side Balik Tutan Sasi Kedi Sokagi. A poem of its own right, almost forgotten, a story that begged to be told. And then there is Scorpion Wine itself, the sole story included about childhood. The witch in the bathroom, a spider that dangles down to the face, a scorpion that can evaporate in wine, a little girl who wants so bad to be cruel to a little boy--these are all things that happen, the possibility of which we so easily forget when we grow up. The need to hurt that comes out of the loneliness of littleness, and the urge to imagine, to find another world to exist in that comes out of silence--this is where creation begins I believe. And all that comes after, the city, the party, the beautiful dress, the long inhale of smoke, and the long night spent in the attempt to love another--all are merely reverberations, delicately tainted mirages colored by the places and ghosts of the past. Looking back now, I see that there are motifs throughout the stories that I myself am only now conscious of. Eyes, blue, water, creaks, groans, gowns, growls, gurgles. Flutes, flames, fringes. Girls with porcelain skin, spaces made of uneven walls. Cat tail corners, cervical facial features. But perhaps these are the most telling moments here. When nightmares collide with the tapping of fingers. When undermined longings, or long lost dreams, erupt into the oh so fragile fluxom of the page.
Camoglu, Etkin Kubali, "Scorpion Wine: A Short Story Collection" (2011). English Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 13.