Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Heather Frese writes about her debut novel, The Baddest Girl on the Planet, out now from Blair.
If The Baddest Girl on the Planet were a pair of sunglasses, it’d be coated in a thin layer of sand and salt. Three of the white polka dots on the Kelly green rims would be rubbed to barely-there-ness, and one earpiece would have small bite marks from your misbehaving Yorkie, but you’ll refuse to get rid of them because their cat-eye shape makes you feel like Sophia Loren as you use one hand to pull them down, movie star-like, from their headband perch to cover your eyes, leaning back to rest your other elbow on a gritty beach towel.
If The Baddest Girl on the Planet were a dog toy, it’d be a cat toy, hastily appropriated by the dog himself. Full of catnip, it’d be shaped like a fish taco, and by “fish taco,” think, “fabric-covered, lettuce-lined plastic crispy tortilla stuffed with a crocheted orange goldfish, white and black eyes googling upwards and red mouth pursed in a kissy pout.” The fish taco will have been the replacement for the dog’s previous favorite dog toy, also a catnip-filled kitty toy, also stolen by the dog from the Petco up the beach. The old one had been shaped like a radish.
If Baddest Girl were a Vegas casino, it wouldn’t be a casino at all, but a super sweet buffet, one of those with all kinds of seafood, and a view of the glistening, dancing fountains at the Bellagio.
If The Baddest Girl on the Planet were a series of text messages to its best friend, it’d be a rapid-fire quip-y exchange including the following: inside jokes (the one about the mustaches), a GIF of a kid in a sailor hat shouting “Yas, Queen,” quotes from Mean Girls (“Four for you, Glen Coco.” “You go, Glen Coco!”), and a descriptive comparison as to which is the bigger cock-block, kids or dogs.
If The Baddest Girl on the Planet were a toddler meltdown, it’d be the boneless, flailing kind where you know you should calmly state that the toddler ought to use their words and make good choices, but all you can do is stare in bewilderment and something akin to appreciation at the spectacle. You’ll think to yourself, what the fuck, dude, but you won’t actually say it out loud.
If The Baddest Girl on the Planet were a family member, it’d be that one aunt, the one who shows up to Christmas dinners wearing fishing waders, the one whose left eyebrow arches when you tell her about the boy who broke up with you by leaving you at the ferry dock on Ocracoke, the one who sometimes answers the phone with, “City morgue, you stab ‘em, we slab ‘em,” the aunt who smokes cigarettes while combing the tangles out of your salty hair, her fingers gentle despite their nicotine-stained scent.
If The Baddest Girl on the Planet were a cocktail, it’d be a Long Island iced tea sitting on a high, round table surrounded by girlfriends joking about how they must look to the masculine gaze, a pack of single ladies sipping multiple Long Island iced teas and then dancing with each other all night long, shaking it with confidence and abandon and joy in a prime spot right up front by the band. My book would be so easy to drink you wouldn’t even realize you’re tipsy until you looked at the pictures the next day.
Heather Frese’s fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Review, Front Porch, the Barely South Review, Switchback, and elsewhere, earning notable mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Essays. She received her master’s degree from Ohio University and her M.F.A. from West Virginia University. Coastal North Carolina is her longtime love and source of inspiration, her writing deeply influenced by the wild magic and history of the Outer Banks. She currently writes, edits, and wrangles three small children in Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherkfrese.