“… the red poppy often meant imagination and eternal sleep, but also pleasure . . . ‘The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where/Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent/And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?’”
Allison Meier writes in Hyperallergic about the hide-in-plain-sight secret language of flowers, as the prim Victorian loaded the bouquet with va-va-voom blooms, to do the talking for him or her.
Or, as the young, wild, mocking Istvan once observed amongst the quality:
“Sometimes the alderman’s wives enclose flowers with their billet-doux, rosemary for remembrance, blue violet for constancy, yellow tulips for hopeless love . . .”
To go under the poppy can mean many things.
Each generation thinks it has – it must have! – invented both desire and sex; because, no doubt, it all feels forever new. But the 19th century knew just as much as the 21st. For a timely reminder, see Mihaly Zichy’s drawings, and let your bodice rip if it will.
There have been requests and suggestions for an Under the Poppy album of erotica, based on the “menu” of services available. The brothel ponders …
And who cares? Do you? How about judges on awards panels? Or the reader shin-deep in BOOK who just wants to figure out if this is a piece of writing s/he wants to spend time with?
“This week, the chair of this year’s Man Booker prize, Robert Macfarlane, published an introduction to a new edition of M John Harrison’s Climbers. In it, he says ‘let me try to express a little of the amazement I feel when standing in front of the work of Harrison, who is best known as one of the restless fathers of modern SF but who is to my mind among the most brilliant novelists writing today, and with regard to whom the question of genre is a flimsy irrelevance’. Are we witnessing the end of the genre wars? … Well, not to publishers and booksellers, who seem the section of the literary world most wedded to genre distinctions: you’ll still find China Miéville and Lauren Beukes in fantasy, Ken MacLeod and Iain M Banks in sci-fi, Sophie Hannah and Ruth Rendell in crime, Brian Evenson and Kathe Koja in horror. We critics can praise them to the high heavens, but it doesn’t change where they end up in a bookshop. It does seem odd that historical fiction isn’t segregated in the same way (and ‘literary’ historicals – yes, Wolf Hall et al – sit next to ‘genre’ historicals such as those by Robyn Young or Simon Scarrow).”
Very pleased to see my work cited as one of these non-genre examples – writing books classified as, yes, horror, then YA, now historical, and all of them the product of the same sensibility and skills, illustrates both the reach and the limits of genre classification. Because it’s not always a limitation: those who like to read in a particular genre will give a new byline a chance simply because it’s in that genre, and that’s a boon to reader and writer alike.
But in the end, if you select your fiction (or films, or music, or theatre or whatever have you) strictly by its classification, it’s like ordering the chicken friend steak every time. Sometimes it might be great, and sometimes it might be, well, chicken-fried steak. And if you never order off the menu, you’ll never know what you might have loved, hated, swallowed, been nourished by forever … It applies to people, too.
See him now, cleanly barbered, dressed in a finely made suit, one might think him a man of commerce, strictly of the daylight world – yet a killer still, and nimble in the darkness, one can see it in his eyes, something in his gaze that calms only when he looks at Istvan. [Jonathan West as Rupert. Photo courtesy Rick Lieder.]
The Detroit Free Press previews our brothel and includes a quote from co-director Diane Cheklich on disorientation and fun, and one from co-director Kathe Koja on puppets and smells, so the foundation is well-covered.
And we salute our amazing cast once more as the doors open to you, Mesdames et messieurs, who will soon make their unforgettable acquaintance:
STEVE XANDER CARSON
VANESSA ELLEN HENTSCHEL
“It is our hope that you shall enjoy your evening. Patrons come from far and wide to visit the Poppy, they visit again and again . . . “