I think After Claude by Iris Owens was titled by its narrator, a late-twenties pathological liar who deceives herself as much as anyone else. The bulk of the novel, you see, very much does not take place after Claude, but during Claude. Like with many other things in her life, Harriet may be telling herself it is after Claude, but we can see that it’s not.
Just as we can see through every other story Harriet tells herself, us, and anyone else who will listen about what’s wrong in her life, how persecuted she is, how she is always the victim and only tries to do good for her friends and lovers, &tc. You know the type. Take the story of how Harriet and Claude get together. She’s been living with her childhood friend Rhoda-Regina, who very much needs Harriet’s help and who is extremely depressed. Harriet does what she can for her friend, but ultimately Rhoda-Regina rejects this aid and throws Harriet out in a fit of rage that gets her landed in Bellevue. Poor crazy Rhoda-Regina. Claude, an upstairs neighbor, finds Harriet with all her worldly goods thrown into the street, and takes her in.
Bits and pieces of this story are let drop until we get to the main Rhoda-Regina-Incident flashback and find out that Harriet was probably eating her out of house and home while spending her days and nights lounging on a mattress in her studio. When Rhoda-Regina tried to get rid of her moocher friend, Harriet heard “[a] deeper voice, a cosmic voice, if you will,” whisper, “Help Rhoda.”
Up from the deep trenches of my unconscious floated an insight. The insight was that Rhoda-Regina had never experienced your average sexual bliss. She was waiting for me to take her by the
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