As I started reading Adrienne Eisen’s premiere novel “Making Scenes,” I had only gotten to about page eight when I thought it was too far-fetched and packed with traumatic events to be a real work of literature. The desire to know what could possibly happen next was what kept me reading the book.
What I didn’t realize, though — and only realized after many late nights spent reading “Making Scenes” when I should have been sleeping — was that Eisen’s voice in this novel was so remarkable and personal that these seemingly exaggerated and dramatized events were perfectly incorporated into the novel and prove to be valid parts of the life of the main character.
“Making Scenes” tells the story of a nameless girl who recently graduated from college and is trying to find her way. She struggles with personal and relationship issues which Eisen describes so clearly that they seem very real and it would be hard to not relate to at least parts of what the lost girl is going through.
The narration in “Making Scenes” is done in a stream-of-consciousness style, however it remains directed and focused, never wandering on a tangent. It’s easy to read because the words flow easily and clearly together.
Unlike other books that describe sexual experiences and personal matters solely for the purpose of entertaining the reader, “Making Scenes” tells about such events with unmatched honesty that reaches far beyond entertaining and really delivers a message.
It’s easy to downplay the transition that takes place after college, when students are learning to work and live a whole new life. The struggles the character deals with are real, and the sense of bewilderment is conveyed.
If you begin reading “Making Scenes” and are somewhat turned off by the vivid descriptions of sexual encounters and the main character’s struggle with an eating disorder, don’t assume it’s just another romance novel failing miserably at its goal to keep the reader’s attention.
“Making Scenes” is a beautifully written novel about a relevant topic told with a personal, descriptive and lively voice. It’s the perfect work for the college-aged reader, and if you’re like me it will have you wondering when Eisen will publish another.
After I finished reading “Making Scenes” I was curious and intrigued about certain aspects of the book.
I contacted Adrienne Eisen and got to ask her a few questions and gain a little insight into her book. Here’s what she had to say.
Campus Times: When did you first start writing?
Adrienne Eisen: Before I even knew how to write the alphabet, I would dictate stories to my dad that he would write down in a notebook. I started keeping a diary when I was six. [My] first entry — “Aunt Judy got to swim after lunch and I didn’t. I hate Grandma.”
CT: Where do you get inspiration for your work?
AE: I write about my own life. Sometimes, when I think someone else’s life would be a good complement to mine, I write about their life. My friends open almost all phone conversations with, “You can’t write about this.”
CT: I know portions of “Making Scenes” were previously published in magazines and anthologies, and the book was published in 2002. When did you first start working on “Making Scenes,” and when were the portions of your book published?
AE: I started writing the novel in 1993. I mostly write in short vignettes, so as soon as I wrote one or two, which was a lot for me at the beginning, I sent them to magazines. So the whole time I was working on the novel, pieces of the novel were getting published. Early on, Alt-X Network published the hypertext, “Six Sex Scenes,” that was a good portion of the third section of the novel.
You can read “Six Sex Scenes,” and other hypertexts at www.adrienneeisen.com. “The Interview” and “Winter Break” are also hypertexts that I published from pieces of the novel. The other hypertexts at this site came after the novel.
CT: Is the main character in “Making Scenes” based on some biographical details of your own life, or is she a creation solely of your imagination?
AE: The main character is based on me. I lie when I think it will help me make my point. My family says stuff like, “What about on page 15? That’s not true! That didn’t happen, did it?” But I don’t think it matters. In my mind, fiction is a better way to get to the truth because the act of conveying feelings is not constrained by “what really happened.”
CT: At times “Making Scenes” was very descriptive and graphic. Why did you choose to write such an open and personal narrative?
AE: Everyone does gross, embarrassing things. It is weird to me that people don’t talk about them. Writing what really happens to me makes me feel less lonely.
CT: As I read “Making Scenes” I was repeatedly impressed by the unique voice of the main character. How did you develop her voice as just a stream of thoughts?
AE: I think this is the voice I have always had. It’s the voice I used to dictate stories to my dad.
CT: I may be wrong in this, but looking back through “Making Scenes” I could not find the name of the main character. Am I correct in that she doesn’t have a name? If so, why did you choose not to give her a name?
AE: There’s no name because I thought if I used someone else’s name then I’d be faking that it wasn’t me. And if I used my own name then I’d feel bad every time I told a lie. Sometimes, book reviewers — who probably don’t really read the book — will actually give the narrator a name, they’ll mistakenly use the name of one of the other characters.
CT: Is there anything you would like to add?
AE: To me the book is about how hard it is to graduate from college. The time when you are out of school but have not figured out a non-school life is very hard. Maybe not everyone is throwing up or modeling nude, but everyone who is honest is questioning themselves feels a little lost and lonely.
Egan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.