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Rage and Desperation

mari.reiza Author Interview

mari.reiza Author Interview

Physical follows two women, Fatima who has given birth to twins in London and Kiki who finds herself stuck and alone in Northern Italy after her boyfriend leaves her for an ‘upgrade’. What was the inspiration for the setup to this engaging novel?

This novel was inspired by a wine-fueled conversation between two close female friends discussing the past five years of their lives. Like in the book, one had given birth not too long ago, and the other one had recently been ditched by a long-term boyfriend. Both were distraught at the sharp decline of their self-esteem and loss of their identity in a matter of months. They exchanged passionate words of rage and desperation which grew more caustic the more they drunk. Just before collapsing from alcohol intoxication, they homed on actionable lessons from their almost opposite yet very similar experiences: desire was still ablaze inside them; sex continued to matter; and whatever else slightly alien seemed to be hijacking their lives, they deserved to seek physical fulfillment. The rest, is fiction.

Emotions run high in this book and you can truly feel where these women are coming from in their midlife crises. What were some themes you used when developing your characters?

On the side of Kiki, I was eager to explore ways in which a middle-aged female could cope with rejection including the weight of factors such as aging, the yearn for children, and the clash with societal pressures and surrounding family and friends. Of course, I also wanted to look at the role of sexuality and how it changes with age, and whether physical desire can remain determining even as mature life becomes more complicated.

On the side of Fatima, I focused on the potential result of taking away freedom and independence from a successful middle-aged woman, trapping her in a new ‘silent’ world. I wanted to push Fatima to the edge and see where she would run to re-find herself, and how much she would risk to regain happiness. I toyed with betrayal and whether it could be therapeutic and serve a purpose, as well as with a mother’s/wife’s guilt for her own selfishness versus her right to want fulfilment of all kinds including physical. I wanted Fatima to consider whether love means total trust and what trust actually means.

I felt that Kiki was sabotaging herself a lot through the story. Do you think this is reflective of her character as a whole or is this just a phase she’s going through?

Kiki is a woman of a different time. Full of ideas and ideals. Passionate and righteous but who has never been allowed to believe in herself too much. She would like to leave Italy but doesn’t find the courage. She would like to step out of her parents’ influence but loves them too much. She knows she’s very different from her friends but not sure she could do without them. She’s deep down uncertain of what she wants from men, but at times feels pressured she should follow every female’s ideal of marriage. She’s a strong doubter with a good heart for whom things finally work out. We need more Kikis in the world, for sure.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Morte a Pisa: LIPS, LIGHT & LYRE will be out in June. It is a thin book with a trio of reflective short-stories around female death following a weekend in Pisa. The next full-length novel will be Caro M, where a lover misses her beloved Caro M after being abandoned; a wife is steered through her divorce from husband Caro M by her sweetheart psychiatrist; and a young girl has landed a fairy tale wedding to groom Caro M that soon becomes a nightmare her cousin wants to help fix. Naturally, someone somewhere will be the end of Caro M…

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Physical: The catastrophe of desire“A book about female desire.

In a small town in northern Italy, Kiki feels worthless and angry when her longtime partner finds a new cool girl to ride on another decade of easy existence. Meanwhile in trendy London, Fátima, the wife of Kiki’s best friend, is losing her selfhood after giving birth to twins and being made redundant. Both heroines are determined to rebuild the passion and impunity of their youth, vitalising desires that will bring them to risk everything…

Themes covered in the novel include rejection, identity, betrayal, freedom and the right to happiness. The tone is humorous on the face of distress, often rejoicing in the terror of lives out of control.”

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Physical: The Catastrophe of Desire

Physical: The catastrophe of desire4 StarsPhysical: The catastrophe of desire by Mari Reiza is a wild ride of a read. For both main characters, two middle aged women, Kiki and Fatima, it is indeed a catastrophe, but of their own making. Kiki is virtually strapped in a small town in Northern Italy and finds herself alone after her longtime boyfriend leaves for an “upgrade”. Fatima finds herself in a crisis of identity after having twins and struggles to find purpose in her enlarged family. Yet, both women feel pulled along by their baser desires to rekindle the energy and passion they had in their youth.

Overall, the book reads very fast pace, which for a shorter book is expected and I would say enjoyed it. There are moments where the book reads as if Reiza is experimenting with stream of conscious, but then it breaks away from that to continue in a more traditional narrative pattern. The change can occur on the same page or even within the same paragraph, which may be disconcerting to the careful reader.

The characters themselves are a varied mix of character strengths and flaws that can keeps the reader engaged. Kiki has a mouth like a sailor and clearly has a drive and motivation to make something of herself if she can overcome her very physical, base needs. There were times it was hard to follow her storyline given that she self-sabotages to a large degree. Fatima on the other hand seems to be the polar opposite, in the sense that she is in a steady marital relationship with children, something Kiki is allergic to. Fatima is no prude though and is as explicit as Kiki is about sex and the like. Both women seem driven to try and enliven their lives in any way they can no matter the cost, even if it dramatically disrupts their lives.

The story is told through both women point of view in alternating chapters and some heavy style choice make the narrative more “telling” than “showing”. But these are easy to push past as you get drawn into the struggle of Kiki and Fatima. The strongest point of Reiza’s writing is that you can truly feel where these women are coming from in their midlife crises. They are clearly tired and bored of their current lifestyle and need to do something to shake it up. It truly appeals to the deepest core beliefs that individuals can have when they have reached a “rock bottom” or stagnant part of life.

Overall, it is a classic contemporary fiction story. Of two women trying as best they can to beat back the overshadowing struggle of age and day to day responsibilities. Passion isn’t only reserved for the youth; it can always be rekindled later with a little help.

Pages: 143 | ASIN: B01N9ZU9XL

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The Usual Monsters

Mari Reiza Author Interview

Mari Reiza Author Interview

West bEgg follows four characters and their bosses who are part of the powerful elite class of society. This is an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your goal when writing this novel?

West bEgg is a novel that came to life in pieces over the last decade when four very different friends in distant corners of the world related to me stories and complaints from their bosses which seemed farcical, as if reality had really outdone itself. At the time I only listened and laughed in disbelief, although I was also saddened that my friends, all of whom have thankfully moved on since then, rarely felt they could do much about their situation. Some time later, I read an article in The Economist suggesting that the current power elites are more talented, harder working and better educated (though in fairness it said ‘better schooled’) than in the past and it made me think back to and connect my friends’ tales together, only because I realised they told of a moment in time they had lived through in their careers that was especial, of a world particular in its madness and definitely worth recording (fictionalised of course!) to confront mankind with it.

What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?

I’ve always been astounded by how power influences people, how quickly they grow with it into strange eccentric beings, as well as how they rush to bow to it surrendering their own identities.

I loved the stark contrast between the characters and their bosses. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

On the side of the powerful I wanted to explore how they become increasingly distanced from reality, as well as the relationship between power and sex. On the side of the victims, I needed to dwell on the usual monsters: standing up for oneself, remaining aware of what has real value, fighting fear, loneliness and humiliation and keeping a dream.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

‘After an accident leaves her in a coma, he sits on a hospital chair day-in day-out singing to her. Nobody can pull him away from her as she threads through the dreams that could save her. Meanwhile, a delusional nurse grows her admiration for him into obsessive desire.’ ROOM 11 is a dual narrative by strong, cynical, broken heroines (a nurse and her patient) winding through tenderness, passion, sacrifice, rage, guilt and eventually forgiveness, to help them re-emerge from their separate tragedies. It will be available March 10.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

West bEgg: the world's new power elite“Luca is a punch bag, a tea towel, a toilet bowl, to Macco One, the undeniable and unbreakable King of Egg Power, proud of averaging over a hundred flights a year to visit chicken markets around the world. Anna moved to Catania to work for Madame Sicily fulfilling varied tasks from picking up Céline swimwear before it hits the runways, to recovering badly parked Lamborghinis. La Revolução dreams through buildings but builds parking spaces, when she is not helping launder money for her boss’s dad’s dodgy charities. And finally Carolina is out to conspire with Paquita who met her boss, the German, in a red lit booth, to understand why the man has to drain the passion out of everything. Their fates will collide at the preposterous Fanta party, but the question is whether their bosses will get what they deserve?  

West bEgg is a novel about the behaviour of the power elite who are often still arrogant and uneducated, ridiculously flamboyant, obscene, sex-obsessed, full of entitlement, afraid of rejection and unfortunately indestructible.”

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West bEgg: The World’s New Power Elite

West bEgg: the world's new power elite3 Stars

West bEgg: the world’s new power elite centers on the narrative of four main characters; Luca, Anna, Carolina, and La Revolução. The first three characters are assistants working for demanding, ruthless, and utterly annoying bosses, while La Revolução is an architect who works under her own annoying boss as well as beside his self-righteous daughter. The main theme that connects these characters is that they all seem to hate their jobs, and the daily tasks that they are given. All characters and their bosses are brought together at The Fanta Party where, despite endless preparation, disaster strikes out of the blue.

Mari.Reiza does a beautiful job of crafting each character for the reader. While they are all united in their disdain for their bosses and perhaps even depression at their personal lives, the characters are in fact, completely different individuals. Luca knows he is a punching bag and keeps this mantra rolling on repeat throughout the short novel. Anna would never imagine standing up to her boss, and goes out of her way to make sure that everything is perfect, while Carolina is perfectly okay with getting on her boss’ nerves, yet cries to anyone that will listen about how terrible he is. And then we have La Revolução, who seems to be the most interesting out of all these characters. She is not an assistant, but she is tasked with working with Irajá, the boss’ spoiled daughter, who is more trouble than she is worth. In a way, La Revolução is an assistant to Irajá, but her ultimate concern seems to be with ‘living the dream’. This could be acquainted to actually making a difference with her life’s work, rather than building parking lots or destroying properties that act as safe houses for abused women.

Each of the characters’ stories are told through their own point of view in each chapter. The reader will read about Luca’s experience of tending to his boss’ needs, then the next chapter might switch to Carolina crying on the shoulder of a sympathetic listener. The author does a great job of leading the reader up to the moment of The Fanta Party, where all of these characters will meet. However, this is where it falls flat for the reader. As carefully planned as it might have seemed, the party meets with disaster and we find the assistants running around trying to piece everything back to together like always. It seems that the misdoings of each boss has come back to wreak havoc on this party, and the assistants are the ones left to clean up the mess. It’s all very rushed through. I felt that much of the novel detailed the daily workings of each character, only to rush onto the climax of the story and not spend enough time fleshing out what I thought was the most interesting part of the novel. This novel should definitely be applauded for the difficult positions in which it places its characters, but overall, more details and a greater climax would have been welcomed.

I loved the detailed character descriptions and the authors grasp of nuance in character development. West bEgg is a fascinating piece of fiction that colorfully reveals the lives of the upper class.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B01N4MSUKV

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