I wasn’t supposed to be meeting Kate Braverman (left) for the first time over lunch at her midtown hotel yesterday afternoon, but the weekend’s snowfall made it impossible for me to get to the “25th Anniversary” party for her debut novel, Lithium for Medea, at the Bowery Poetry Club last weekend. But, she tells me, that was true for just about everyone else in the city, too. “I had friends who live in the Village who couldn’t make it,” she says, but she’s already decided to consider the event a “rehearsal” for a future celebration when she returns to New York this spring. In the meantime, she has a few more dates here to promote her new “accidental memoir,” Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles, including readings tonight at the New School and tomorrow night at the National Arts Club.
A quarter-century hasn’t diminished Braverman’s literary fervor in the slightest. “I’m still on the barricades,” she says, “writing to take on the patriarchy at its most oppressive.” (Nor has she lessened her critical judgment; Joan Didion’s National Book Award for The Year of Magical Thinking, she charges, is nothing more than “the Establishment in full regalia, recognizing and applauding itself.”) Working towards that goal, she says she has not only “written like a man, but lived like a man,” especially in granting herself the same freedom to pursue “the excesses that feed art,” from drug use and sexual adventurism to outright criminality, that male authors like Hemingway and Burroughs have historically had a free pass on. And though that outlaw status does inform the essays in Frantic Transmissions, she’s also willing to cast the collection of essays in another artistic light. “This is my sculptural book,” she says. “So many have been called painterly. The essays make the work more of a dimensional collage.”