Village Voice 04.19.2017 : Page 41

The Show Me State In her wry debut novel, Darcie Wilder views the world through millennial-pink tinted glasses I BY ALANA MOHAMED has happened to me.” always wanted that Disney Channel Wilder has slowly built a following as Californian skateboarding child-the morbidly funny @333333333433333 on hood,” says Darcie Wilder, “but I Twitter (currently boasting over 70K fol-never got it.” I’m sitting with the lowers), where she helped introduce the writer and social-media star in an East world to the phenomenon of “millennial Village dive, B Side, talking about Princess pink.” At MTV News, Wilder’s current Diaries star Erik von Detten’s tween-place of work, her dry brand of observa-friendly Nineties ilmography. Wilder’s tional humor is put to use on the outlet’s new novel, literally show me a healthy social-media accounts. Her irst day on person , is distinctly anti-Disney. Wry the job, BuzzFeed tweeted the MTV reflections on life in New York and in the account a facetious question. Forgoing blogosphere echo throughout the narrative internet niceties, she simply responded, of a young girl losing her mother to cancer, “@BuzzFeed it’s my irst day.” She claims dealing with an emotionally distant father, it “might be my favorite tweet I’ve ever and forging ahead through cycles of abuse, tweeted for work.” neglect, and substance dependency. Wilder’s web writing also informs her Written between 2012 and 2015, book: Emails, blog posts, and tweets are literally show me a healthy person is a peek repurposed into a new rhythm, docu-into the interior monologue of a young menting moments of emotional reso-adult, based on Wilder’s life. Born in New nance the way another novel might York, she bounced between her family render rising and falling action. There is home in Washington Heights, her grand-no linear logic to the events she details. mother’s place in Hell’s Kitchen, and her (The most conventional section of literally uncle’s in Stuytown. Wilder’s parents, both criminal defense lawyers, fought brutally (at one point in the novel, Wilder describes a tense, knife-drawn show-down) and eventually divorced. There are gloomy depictions of run-down New York neighborhoods, self-involved, boundary-crossing men, and the alcohol-fueled abuse she endured from her mother. Wilder maintains it’s not fully autobio-graphical: “A lot of the things in the book are true to me, but it’s not a reported thing.” Instead, names are changed and hyper-literally show bole draws laughs even as it me a healthy illustrates pain. person When I tell her literally show By Darcie Wilder Tyrant Books me a healthy person reminds 97 pp. me of confessional poetry — intensely personal, meander-ing in thought — Wilder’s quick to disagree. “I just get kind of an-noyed that poetry becomes this catchall for writing because the requirements for a poem are essentially nonexistent,” she says. “I feel like other forms and types and genres of writing can be stunted or never develop because anything that doesn’t it into a prede ined genre is a ‘poem,’ and so it’s kind of like, ‘Ugh! Let it live!’ ” Instead, she sees literally show me a healthy person as a novel meant to express herself and connect with others. “It’s very much as if I was being accused of some-thing in general, and this is me confess-ing every terrible thing I’ve ever done or show me a healthy person , spanning four pages, is a frank email from her mother explaining what living with cancer is like.) Rather, a traditional narrative arc is con-torted into an emotional spiral. Wilder, or her character, ricochets between that aloof father, friends who party too hard, and embarrassing social interactions. She can be brutally honest about her failings, but she’s deliberately vague about certain speci ics, dropping us into a world popu-lated with dates, with fellow psychedelic adventurers, but omitting the connective tissue between them. Still, while we might not know their names, we know the type. Meanwhile, the ur-gency of internet par-lance — lowercase, unpunctuated, fre-quently contradictory — is what makes Wild-er’s book so affecting. Lines like “u can be over him and still want to ruin his life. multitudes” and “GEOFF I THINK IM IN A BETTER PLACE THAN WHEN WE DATED OK, IM DO-ING REAL GOOD NOW” ring painfully true, while inviting readers to laugh at Wilder’s bouts of self-loathing. Her brand of humor is built on a kind of paradox: impulsively honest, but neces-sarily self-aware. There is something in-escapably performative about vocalizing extreme emotions — discomfort, hate, sorrow — while knowing you have an audience to communicate them to, especially in the real-time archive of the Twitterverse. Wilder is always after a facsimile of intimacy and seems attuned to the fail-Wilder can be brutally honest about her failings ings of language. See: her impossible-to-pronounce Twitter handle (as she explains in an email, “depending on the situation i like drawing it out really slowly and repeating, ‘three three three three three three three three three four three three three three three’ as neces-sary, sometimes i’ll explain it’s just nine 3s, a 4, and ive 3s, and sometimes i’ll just say it’s a lot of threes and a four”) or the keyboard smash that was almost the name of her novel. “Originally it was supposed to be called this random string of letters, and then Tyrant [Books] was like, ‘Dude, you can’t do that,’ ” she explains. But the title had a purpose. “That communi-cated the feeling of being stunned, very overwhelmed, hav-ing a rush of adrena-line, but not being able to articulate something. A lot of the book is about trying to communicate that feeling.” Wilder’s emotional narrative eventu-ally shifts toward attempts to heal. She describes a conversation with a friend and a scene from rehab, but it’s all tinged with a morbidity. “feeling refreshed after dreaming i was murdered,” she notes, before lamenting setting the smoke alarm off while trying to cleanse spirits from her grandmother’s death-bed. As always, the disparate scenes work together to illustrate the complica-tions of getting better. Sometimes words aren’t enough, though. The last line of her novel ends with that would-be title: “note to self: khdjysbfshfsjtstjsjts.” As @333333333433333, Wilder has developed a cult following on Twitter. 41 April 19 April 25, 2017 VILLAGE VOICE.com Steve Levine/Tyrant Books

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