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A Review of Mallory Smart's I KEEP MY VISIONS TO MYSELF / Wilson Koewing

Near the end of Mallory Smart’s new novel, I Keep My Visions To Myself (With an X Books) Stevie, a 26-year-old musician on the verge of fame, decides she wants to take a bathroom selfie before going to a late night showing of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. Stevie waits patiently for the bathroom to clear out while opining about bathroom etiquette and selfies. Regarding the latter she says, “There was something private about taking selfies even though she shared them with the world a minute later.” While Stevie is interrupted before she’s able to take a selfie, this idea struck me as a metaphor for the concept of the novel itself; Stevie’s entire life will soon be public, but the novel is about her private struggles (the taking of the selfie) with the idea of fame (the sharing of the selfie) which range from excitement to anxiety to apathy to genuine fear.


Smart’s concept is not a new one, a musician on the verge of fame, but I doubt you’ve ever read a version like hers. For example, Stevie and her band never perform together in the novel. In fact, for much of the novel her band is trying to reach her to find out if she’s even going to go on their upcoming tour. Riddled with anxiety, she doesn’t respond. And while there are glimpses into Stevie’s songwriting process (which consist of her being entirely unable to write or finding sudden flashes of inspiration) and dream sequences that offer insight into her artistic aspirations, most of the narrative is grounded in the sort of everyday minutiae that could be of concern to any average 26-year-old. She’s still not over her ex-boyfriend, she’s got a co-worker who she doesn’t get along with, but is maybe starting to get along with, she’s got a best friend (male) who she goes Door Dashing with in the evenings when she’s bored, and they may or may not have crushes on each other. There’s very little of the “rock star lifestyle” of sex and drugs. Stevie does drink and she goes to several off the beaten path bars, and gets black out drunk once, but mostly, Stevie’s story is pretty wholesome.


What struck me the most, while reading Smart’s novel, was that it is lacks pretense, which is almost unheard of indie lit. There is no formalistic experimentation. No grating self-awareness. No cloying insistence by the author to beat the reader over the head with the knowledge of their presence beyond the text. The novel is, at its core, a deceptively simple character study. The plot meanders, more of a point-to-point approach, following Stevie as she lives her daily life around Los Angeles, but that meandering nature never becomes an issue because it is always clear that the overarching concept of the novel is how she soon will be, but is not yet, famous. And therein lies the genius of Smart’s idea. She’s giving you the person before they become the product, the image, the icon; the “something private” about the taking of the selfie before it is shared with the world and no longer only hers. 

Mallory's book can be purchased here.



WILSON KOEWING is a writer from South Carolina. His short story collection Jaded is available from Main Street Rag/Mint Hill Books. His memoir Quasi is available from Anxiety Press. His chapbook Shrink Wraps and Oddities is available from Bottlecap Press. His short story collection Rolling on the Bottom is forthcoming from Cowboy Jamboree Press.

1 Kommentar

Sheldon Lee Compton
Sheldon Lee Compton
25. Feb.

Consider posting this review for her at Amazon. I noticed she doesn't have any reviews there yet.

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