Written: July 6, 2015
In this fantastical tale, a poor, teenage girl turns out to be a fairy, Skater Deb who encounters a troll, Harlow. Everything starts out rather sad and unfortunate for Skater Deb. Life is brutish. She lives in a trailer park with her alcoholic and physically abusive mother along with a missing sister who is the school debutante. Bullied as an oddball skater dyke, she comes across the high school uber jock who convinces her to jump in his car. BTW young girls, never, ever, ever, ever jump in a strange dude’s car. She actually does this twice. She’s a poor little wreck looking for a big wreck of a life. He takes her to a party out in the middle of nowhere where low and behold, people are planning to do horrible things to her. Again, never jump in a car with a stranger. At the party, she encounters a powerful troll boss who sells drugs to the high school kids and it is possible he also eats them and turns their skin into his car upholstery. She’s roofied at the party and barely escapes a rape attempt by the troll boss only to encounter a gang of bikers on the highway, and yes, for the third time, she hitches a ride with a bunch of strangers jumping out of the frying pan right into the fire.
It’s hard to imagine that this story is grounded in some truth, and perhaps the author is relaying the story and encounters of her life through the safe distance of fairy, troll fantasies. Roller derby has attracted a lot of young women since it was restarted in 2001 as an all-female sport. It was actually coed when it reached the apex of its fame in the 60’s. Ever since some derby marathon skater died of exhaustion and pneumonia from a five-day skating marathon, the sport has been maligned as wicked, evil, and corrupting. This is what made it so appealing in the 60’s as a renegade, rebel sport filled with great villains and beautiful saints battling it out. When it was restarted in 2001 in Austin, Texas, the evil meme stuck and was promoted with beer-swilling, violent, damaged, cutthroat, bad girls duking it out. As such, it drew in a lot of young women who identified with that theme and provided them with both a more constructive outlet, a sisterhood of like-minded and like-feeling hard-knock types but also in some circumstances, a simple multiplication of destructive tendencies and major injuries due to poor training and conditioning and in some cases intoxicants. Today, the sport has been mostly cleaned up with stricter rules and conditioning and skills requirements to keep everyone safer and the complete penalization of any type of extraneous, unnecessary hitting. Gone are the fights and fishnet stockings, mostly, but the bad girl imagine tends to stick around a lot.
I think it’s always good as an avid reader to not stick to any type of genre or author or style. It’s important to get the perspective of as many different types of people and minds as possible. I’ve encountered stories before from a young woman’s perspective. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a lot like this novel but in that case, it was written by a man. This novel is written by a woman who I can only presume did or still does roller derby. As a man, I often forget that women live in a strange world filled with larger, more violent and dangerous men who are almost all obsessed with having sex with them even if they are lesbians. I forget this a lot. I can’t imagine such a place. The only place where this may happen to guys is in prison, so it’s basically like saying, women live in a world where it is pretty much like prison for guys where they’re surrounded by guys who are more violent and larger than they are and there is the ever present danger of being raped by them. But even this comparison is limited. As a dude, my first tactic of defense is going all out violent on any guy trying to hurt or rape me. I don’t think this is how women think. As a guy, I’m thinking, I’d carry a concealed pistol everywhere I go, and the first guy to try to rape me gets a bullet through the eyeball. I think it’s a history of male violence and testosterone that makes me feel it’s perfectly okay to kill a man in self-defense, but I think women just want to get away without inflicting severe damage on a guy. Perhaps they think the guy may come after them later and try to kill them for it. Maybe killing the guy may attract the violence of his brothers, father, or clan? The easiest solution is to just get away. In any case, women are simply less prone to own a gun and kill a man for attacking them.
It also made me think a lot about how women view “going out on the town.” If I had to give women advice, I would tell them never to go out alone. If any woman is seen alone at a bar, as sure as the morning will arrive the next day, the majority of the guys there will hit on her. Guys just think, gee, why would a woman go to a bar all alone, just for the drinks? I can’t imagine that as a guy, going to a bar and getting hit on incessantly just because I’m alone. I would advise women to always go out in at least a pair where the other person is just as responsible as you and doesn’t get trashed. Getting roofied is probably the biggest thing to look out for. Even as a guy, I’ve been roofied perhaps three times. Bartenders are probably the main culprits, guys just having a bad day and didn’t like your attitude or they’re just sadistic fucks. I actually think that fewer women are going out at night to bars, because roofying people is so prevalent. BTW, I looked up the phenomenon, and you’d be surprised how prevalent it is and most likely these days, they do not use Rohypnol but some other sedative or sleep-inducing drug. The way you often tell is that you black out on less than six drinks and have the worst, nauseating hangover ever. I also get the sneaking suspicion that both women and guys just aren’t into the free-for-all socializing scene anymore and tend to hang out more in groups of friends like the Asians do at night. In Japan and Korea at least, you never just walk into a bar and talk to strangers, guys or women. You only do this stuff at what they call a “Western” bar. It’s a digression, but an important one about how men and women, especially for the nightlife scene, tend to live in completely different worlds.
The one sucky thing about growing up in the shits is that at least unconsciously, you’re drawn back into the shits. You misinterpret the behavior of your parents or people around you as normal and loving, so you think that screaming, yelling, being abusive and cruel is some odd form of affection. You wind up being attracted to people who behave that way, what is essentially, immature, antisocial, destructive, and abhorrent. The old cliché is true but it goes both ways. Women who grow up with shitty influences are drawn to the bad boy and think nice guys are boring, wimpy, aloof, odd, and their rather normal, constructive behavior is misinterpreted as uncaring or strange. Likewise, having grown up with shitty influences myself, I am more than aware that I am drawn to damaged women with destructive tendencies. Women who would otherwise scare the bejesus out of nice guys, I find them strangely familiar and attractive. That is not to say that fate is fixed. I have also had a lot of positive influences in my life, especially since leaving my family, and this, over time, develops your palate for more mature, sociable, and responsible people. But it always seems fascinating to me how I always seem to be able to pick out the damaged ones in a crowd, and likewise, they can also probably sense me.
It’s a very sad, dirty, filthy, ignorant, and cruel world this fairy lives in and encounters in her new role as Derby Deb who must win a derby bout to save her missing sister and gets the help of a troll along the way. Maybe it was the scenario or writing but I got tired halfway through and skimmed it until the end. Unlike the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy escapes to a magical kingdom, Derby Deb seems stuck in her existing dirty old world and instead of people, we just have fairies and trolls. It just seemed tired that she spends the whole novel just running from evil creatures and situations. But in a sense, that’s the classic (2001 derby) derby meme. A group of young women who have struggled through hard times escaping in a rink where they can exorcize their demons and skate away from their miseries. Of course, after reading Art of the Pimp, I would have to say, doing derby is a hell of a lot better than becoming a prostitute. I’m not even comparing the two, but it’s just a comparison by proximity in my reading list involving women from hard backgrounds. Derby is more empowering, but I would also note, without proper physical conditioning and nutrition, the injuries in derby can be serious and disabling. There is one women who became a paraplegic and countless who break their ankles or legs while everyone else hobbles around from sprains and strains. Empowering yes, dangerous, violent, and physically demanding, yes too. Fact is, the sport has evolved and today, you see a lot more “conventional” female athletes in the sport than your typecast bad girl with tats and a hard-knock life. BTW, the novel doesn’t even get into derby until three quarters of the way through. http://www.amazon.com/Troll-Derby-Fairy-Wicked…/…/B008BMUKMC