Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature




Origami Striptease
By Peggy Munson

ISBN: 0976341190
Publisher: Suspect Thoughts Press
Pub. Date: Oct 2006
Page Count: 202


Origami Striptease, by acclaimed poet and short story writer Peggy Munson, is a Breath & Shadow reader's wet dream, as the debut novel exemplifies a blend of disability culture and literature. Munson folds descriptions of life with chronic illness, lust, love, queerness, borderlands, abuse, and survival into one impactful read. The protagonist of Origami Striptease is a queer writer who develops "ink poisoning" after her encounter with a complicated villain called The Sludge. In the early stages of the poisoning, the protagonist meets Jack, a boy with a literal and figurative wounded heart. They tend to each other briefly before Jack's demons drive him out into the cold. In Jack's absence The Sludge returns, offering to take care of the protagonist. Even before The Sludge's nurturing turns nasty, both the reader and the protagonist want Jack to come back.

Munson's poetic background is evident as the novel is written primarily in iambic meter. This rhythmic rocking of unstressed and stressed syllables is the lubDub lubDub beat of the human heart. Like a heart it pushes life blood through the tale as the narrative shifts between past and present and reality splinters into metaphor and fever dreams.

The protagonist's lust for boys on the bending end of the gender spectrum and the sexualization of her own body make Origami Striptease a sexy book to read.

"I could say I never thought of fucking, but I always thought of it. I thought about it all the time since I was always lying down . . . Suddenly, I found my body fascinating . . . I masturbated in a weird delirium, reduced to conversations between nerves."

Readers familiar with Munson's erotica will be pleased.       The painful side of embodiment however, is also explored with an accuracy that at times shocks the reader into stone. The protagonist describes the crests and crevasses of her days.
     "Some days were like stigmata. On the calendar, they bled. Some days I could not grab the phone. It was a Bering Strait away. On good days, I sat out and watched the skateboards rattling by. Those days were so miraculous. I crammed my unwashed hair into a hat and sipped on herbal tea. 'Hey punks!' I yelled at skateboard boys who thought I was an apparition." This description of life with ink poisoning is relevant to readers with chronic illnesses whose disabling effects oscillate.

The story in Origami Striptease is an emotionally rough one, told in explicit images and terms. The rhythm of the prose, which Munson has noted helped facilitate her writing process, also boosts the books accessibility as the reader almost absorbs the language into her or his bloodstream. "Prose poem," is the term for poems that incorporate many of the elements of prose, but there is not, that I know of, a term for a novel which is as saturated with poetry as Peggy Munson's Origami Striptease.

For more information on Origami Striptease, please see Peggy Munson's website (http://www.peggymunson.com).

Arden Eli Hill is a recent graduate of Hollins University's Creative Writing MFA program. He is a poetry editor for Breath and Shadow. Arden has had work accepted or published by Willow Springs, Ghoti Magazine, Concrete, Best Gay Erotica 2008, Slow Dancing to Invisible Music, and the anthology, First Person Queer. Arden's first book of poetry is forthcoming from Side Show Press.

Tell us what you think about this author's work or about this month's issue in general. Email: breathandshadow@aol.com

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