Tania Zaverta Chance's Blog

The following guest blog includes a full review of SHEgo written by:

Dr. Daniel Riordan
Ph.D. American Literature- UNC, Chapel Hill 
Professor Emeritus, Department of English & Philosophy- UW, Stout


Careen. Race through the night without lights. Those are the feelings generated as the narrator/protagonist of SHEgo writes the novel that she hopes will ‘interest people, help people and be a big financial success all at once.’ Readers follow her for eight weeks as she dashes off chapter after chapter. We never know her name, or anyone else’s in the book.

Her novel will take her there, allowing her to escape here. Here, according to her, is awful. Her job is boring, her daughter is ungrateful, her husband is a suspicious bastard. Here also contains the traumatic past. She made a conscious decision not to love her mother. Her first husband, and first deep love, abandoned her when she became pregnant. Love is something she ‘learned the hard way to keep to herself.’ To deal with here, she maintains obsessive control. At her gym she spends exactly fifteen minutes in the sauna and she burns off exactly 500 calories on the exercise machine. But as one character observes, the she is controlled by her keeper, the entity that ‘would never let her know the happiness that was inside her.’ Trapped, not knowing how to handle the keeper, she lives ‘shego’, and that her SHEgo propels her lightless night race.

Her careening life and attitude changes when her father suffers a heart attack.  As he lingers she can only see that his death will prevent her from getting there. Suddenly she realizes that here is all she has and she tells him he can go. He does. A lightness fills her body, she surrenders, she finds peace, and in a moment of awareness throws into the trash the flash drive that contains her novel. Not only does she find here, she comes to terms with She. There is a she who is not the same as I: “She thought that I was going to get rid of her forever when I realized that she was there—and I wanted to, but she got even more angry and then I knew—I told her, I told her that I could never do that because she was part of me too.’ This she is ‘her keeper’ who has frightened her into submission but who can be resisted.  ‘She, the ego, still lived in her, but was not her. She lives inside all of us, but is no one of us.’ SHEgo is not the woman who is going, SHE is the driving force that must be accepted and integrated, and that acceptance can also be SH-ego, stop controlling me.

To take the readers through the confused travail that leads to this happy ending Chance has invented a narrator who weaves in and out of all the characters. This device is the most compelling part of the book. It gives the book a dreamlike quality which mirrors the dream of there from which the writer must awaken. At times she comments on the writer, at times she merges with the writer as she creates a chapter, at times she shows us what the others in the writer’s life think and know about her. We see that the writer does not understand the irony of her existence; she never understands that her vision of herself is so seriously flawed that she borders on a joke.

Consider this reflection on her own writing: “What an ego for a contemporary American author to compare herself to a classic written by a master! Why not? She herself was simply a master on the verge of discovery. She was careful that her writing would be a creation of literary fiction by all standards, but feared that she might even be running the risk of being classified as a pop-fiction writer—especially when she made the New York Times Best-Seller List.” It is that careening obliviousness to anything outside her self-propelled drive that makes the reader wonder which of the obstacles will cause her to crash and burn. And it is only the death of her father that finally opens her eyes and heart to the world of love that had been there all along.


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