Tag Archives: Sola Saar

“Anonymity is Life!” – Fiction by Sola Saar

Envy – Raphael Kirchner, circa 1900

A young writer grapples with envy & artistic integrity in “Anonymity is Life!”, Sola Saar‘s delightfully unorthodox short story from our Summer 2018 issue.

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IT STARTED WHEN I WROTE “CRAIGSLIST OPERA,” a short story based on the time my sister tried to produce “La Boheme” by placing several ads online.  People were so desperate for theatre jobs they actually came to our house to apply, though lost interest in the project once they met her. Katrina, 16, was taking a vow of silence at the time.

In the story, which was somewhat dramatized because I had not been there when it happened, a local Soprano singer named Clara came to our door singing Puccini. Katrina typed “$20 per show” into her phone and shoved the screen in the singer’s face, violently turning her head in the other direction. “I am worth much more than that,” Clara belted. “No you’re not,” Katrina typed back. Clara tried to argue, still singing. My sister stayed firm with the price, and the opera singer eventually left, unnerved by the interaction.

It was the only piece of mine to be positively received by my writing workshop. The story was published in my school’s literary journal, and my mother, whose pride took the form of gloating, photocopied and sent the story to all her friends, not considering how Katrina might react. When she found out, I got an angry slew of text messages demanding I retract my “fake article” about her.

“It’s not an article, it’s fiction,” I texted her. “I got the idea from a woman I saw on the news.”

“I see, dear,” she wrote back.

My response seemed to assuage her, or so I thought. A few days later, my mom told me Katrina expressed interest in writing a novel about my life. She said she wanted to write an entire novel, because it was “much more difficult than short stories,” which I mainly wrote. A week later she updated me that Katrina wasn’t going to write a novel because she was “retired,” but her roommate Caroline was in the process of drafting my life story. Caroline went under the pen name “Anonymous.” Caroline was a large brunette doll.

Caroline wrote the novel with her own hands, not idiomatically speaking. Katrina sat Caroline on her lap and gripped the doll’s tiny webbed fingers, delicately pressing each key. It took them half an hour to write a paragraph. Still, they were a diligent machine, producing several pages a day.

I envied Katrina’s discipline. I hadn’t written anything since I’d found out I’d gotten waitlisted for an advanced creative writing class two weeks ago. Most of the time I delegated to writing I spent staring at my laptop, hate-stalking this girl Hannah Brown who was the instructor’s favorite in our last workshop. She wrote these really inane stories about getting drunk with her friends at her Beverly Hills prep school. As the only freshman who’d gotten into the creative writing course, she boasted about how it had really inspired her to finish a novel draft over the break.

I rejoiced every time Hannah looked sloppy or dehydrated in a photo on social media. I knew I was being petty and mean, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I felt much more compelled to do this than write. I don’t know why I was so obsessed with her success. I wasn’t really threatened by her. Her stories were bad. I was certain they were bad. I knew my writing was bad also, at this stage of my life, but her writing was hopelessly, irredeemably, numbingly bad, and it would never get any better. I could tell because of the kind of human she was.

Whenever I saw her out at parties she had this stumbly air about her, it was more than tipsiness, it was a lack of composure that was almost embarrassing. I like to drink but I had a lot of composure, too much composure. I was like a fucking mannequin. Most close friends told me they rarely knew what I was thinking. But I knew the lack of composure she showed in public translated to how much writing she produced. She had what I didn’t, not talent, but a lack of self-consciousness that allowed her to sit down and fucking write.

Less than a month after Katrina declared she was writing a book about me, I got a PDF of her novel, Midget Utopia, via email. It was going to be self-published that week. The book wasn’t about me; it was about Katrina’s family of dolls, whom she referred to as “midgets” because of their inability to grow. I was scarcely mentioned in the index: a compendium of characters featured in the novel that included our family, her dolls, imaginary friends, and every person she could remember encountering in her life.

Vera Gunarsson, age 19: Vera is a pale human with long black curly hair and brown eyes. She is 5’5” and 105 or maybe 110 lbs. and is somewhat of an online writer. She is the sister of Katrina and godmother to Marissa. Vera lives in Northern California. 

She waited until I returned home for winter break to throw a book party. I told her I didn’t know if I could make it, but congratulations on finishing a whole novel. She reminded me that she didn’t write the novel, Caroline did. She had, however, translated the book into Russian, I assume using one of those free computer-generated translating websites.

My mom’s entire family and some of our neighbors came to the Midget Utopia release.

“I thought you were the writer,” my aunt said to me at the book party. “I didn’t know your sister wrote.” She looked at the cover, which had an image of Katrina surrounded by her dolls on the bed, and opened it to the first page and began reading.

December 8, 1996: Kat Zlovesney is born in Russia at the Moscow Presbyterian hospital. She weighs 8 lbs. and 5 ounces and is 13 inches long with dark brown hair. She is immediately adopted by an American family and brought to Los Angeles.

“Russia!” she cackled. “I love it! Where’d she come up with that?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “She’s so creative.”

My mom announced it was time for the reading. We gathered around the couches and waited as Katrina fuddled with her phone. Her vow of silence remained intact; she wasn’t going to read the selection herself. She had an app on her phone that robotically read her typed words aloud. It sounded like Stephen Hawking reading the dust jacket cover:

My name is anonymous

Why be named? Not all people will remember you nor each other

Most people forget names anyway

Names are arbitrary and some people do not like their names or feel they were

Given the wrong name

 In reality, we are destined to remain anonymous and not be forced to have a name

 Anonymity is life!

 Everywhere I go I will remain anonymous

I will remain anonymous in peace

I remain anonymous on internet

When I do my individual job or working at an

Organization, I remain anonymous

When I write, I remain anonymous

I pledge to be anonymous everywhere

anonymous and ageless in timeless life

I was born to be anonymous. I die to be anonymous

I forever to be anonymous

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