Besides possessing a really pretty first name, Joyelle McSweeney has earned a place as one of the top three poets presently (the other two are Ariana Reines and Chelsey Minnis). Totalitarian, deathy, and melodious, Joyelle has composed a Hunger Games-like novel, an essay about Ronald Regan, and a play, the Contagious Knives, that’s rich in rancor and in rhymes.
The Contagious Knives displays the diction of a nimble rapper and the pitch of an impassioned preacher. As the play’s hero, Louis Braille, tells Bradly Manning, “No indian giving, no taking it back, / except when you take it from me, / Indian, Chinaman, Brad-lee.”
Obviously, Joyelle needs no help decking her characters. Louis’s costume consists of pink panties, a Target t-shirt, a Victorian sailor suit, liquid eyeliner, and more. But what if it was required to dress the Contagious Knives’s characters in designer labels for a French Vogue editorial? What would they wear then? Well, maybe they’d trot out on stage in these things:
Boastful, sassy, and violent, Joyelle’s Louis Braille is a boy for boys to admire. Some of Louis’s first lines are: “I’m a very special cunt. / A very special fucking cunt. That’s what daddy always said / (wink wink).” Not humble about inventing his eponymous language for blind boys and girls, Louis likens himself to napalm and hints at an affiliation with Nazis by repeating “Not see!” four times in a row.
Jane Eyre is one of the best books ever composed by a girl or boy. Charlotte’s eponymous heroine encapsulates many of the traits that I admire the most. Jane is sassy. She’s not afraid to give a little lip. When her cruel aunt tells her that she’s not fit to associate with her own cousins Jane retorts, “They are not fit to associate with me!” Jane is also cleverly violent. She deforms a deceptive boy (Rochester) and kills her competition (Bertha) without lifting a pinky finger. Mary Tudor never had to lay a hand on the Protestants that she burned and neither did Jane. Jane is a queen. A queen requires a fabulous wardrobe. Here are outfits that will sustain Jane through each of the five stages of her royal trajectory.