my review of @khajj’s ‘An Endless Hunger’

I first read Narcisse Navarre’s An Endless Hunger in May when I was caught underneath a threshold of depression. Reading my bewilderment of reality into his searing hunger for living, Navarre’s vampire spoke back into me. And, deeply.

I could say that I did not expect that to happen, but I would be doing a disservice to my awareness of the quality of Navarre’s writing. We had shared many a poetic exchange through Twitter, always after I had been exalted by her way with words. Erotic and visually drawing, Navarre left linguistic imprints upon me on nights where I was up late working on academic scholarship. All too often, there we both were: writing ourselves into the night.

It made sense to me that An Endless Hunger would leave a similar indelibility. My surprise was only in how strong this textual memory ended up becoming.

Months passed by since my reading in May. Work and personal circumstances took me far astray from exaltation. Nonetheless, I kept realizing that the only vampire I had cared to read was, none-too-frequently, with me—in the faces I saw in social media, yearning for another voice and another void. Some nights, on my long drive home from school, he would speak directly to me though he was nowhere near my sight.

Or was he?

Navarre’s cold-blooded killer is as human as any of us. He salivates for warmth. The significant pull of An Endless Hunger is in association. Navarre doesn’t just get inside the mind of a man driven to consumption, she grips her readers in their insatiable greed for human contact.

This is why I could not process my reaction to this text at first. This is also why it wouldn’t shake me. We, An Endless Hunger and I, were inseparable because of my hunger was very alive inside me. The narrator says, “I passionately envied those who blinded me and made my eyes bleed like fountains. In those rare moments I recoiled back into my grotto sick with envy, yet burning inside, as if stung by a million morning suns.” I, too, have recoiled. Many times over.

 

Navarre’s writing finds in me my own absence—she writes the way my pain sees the world. On winter hiatus from work, I was ready to look into An Endless Hunger again, needing the validation that reliving that exaltation of desire and madness, ache and a quenching could only give.

For me, this story is about man at his basest. Base in the sense of our most terrific need to consume. Where we are so ready to accumulate possessions and people, we fall victim to the part of ourselves we cannot acquire. Whatever this may be may very well be unique to every individual; reading this text promises that we alone can name our need. Navarre’s vampire lives himself through his drive to self-satisfy. He is frightening, yes. Yet he is also devastatingly relatable.

Navarre once told me that it takes a lot for her to write this character into being. She said, “He is so hungry.” I didn’t ask then, but want to now: aren’t we all?

But asking this is actually quite unnecessary. To take one read-through of An Endless Hunger is to know immediately that Navarre’s talent as a writer comes down to a naming. Navarre sees; stigma, flaw, and selfishness are not hidden underneath her prose, but made as much a part of the story as they are ourselves. Navarre knows that it is our fear of seeing that we need unveiled. She recognizes these indiscretions are the fashions we wear when we try so hard not to be what we are undressed and vulnerable.

Why a vampire buries himself in the earth at day to sleep; why he encases women in porcelain just to eternally objectify the loss of beauty in his glance; and why consummation will always confuse itself with consumption, the heart of An Endless Hunger is not a draining. The death of our sins, we learn, is an admission of their capacity for revival. In Navarre’s words, “Gazing into those mirrors reflected a perfect lie.” Every time I read this, I will ask of myself whether it is sin we should shun, or society’s refusal to let us have our need.

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3 thoughts on “my review of @khajj’s ‘An Endless Hunger’

    • You did me the honor when you gave me a copy of your novella. One day, I hope to have a hardcover copy to hold whenever I am feeling especially hungry. My dear affections to you.

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