A Mad Bent Diva
Author: David Bateman
Title: A Mad Bent Diva
Trade Paperback: 210 pages
Suggested Retail : $22.95
E-Stores: Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Indigo and other e-stores worldwide.
(Check each e-store for the best price on book and shipping as prices tend to vary from store to store.)
Press Release: Click on the press release link below if you would like to see the full PDF Press Release.
A Mad Bent Diva combines a variety of genres (memoir, poetry, performance) in a short story format. More than forty engaging and powerful narratives make up an overall story of a single life hiding – and asserting itself – in the midst of many lives.
This collection of short stories straddles the precarious line between fiction and memoir. Over the course of forty ‘odd’ narratives, ranging from full-blown plots to single pages of flash-back-fiction / creative—non-fiction, culminating in a powerful finale comprised of eleven ‘suicide notes… a collection of life affirming death threats, vignettes, and epithets’ A Mad Bent Diva’ reveals that the anagram that makes up the title is as personal as it can get when it comes to the authors relentless presence among a cast of remarkable characters. Not larger than life, but a representation of life itself, the series has been called an interconnected collection resonant with the “desperate beauty” of a life growing up and growing old in the midst of relentless trauma and joy. Razor sharp wit ripped with the dryness of a diva’s tongue, this is as much a series of poignant essays as it is a critique of the sacred and profane as they mingle in a single life lived among many single lives.
Like a semi-autobiographical novel in over forty chapters, the stories that make up A Mad Bent Diva range from intimate portraits of a queer childhood, to lengthy narratives about a group of friends who engage in annual holidays at a favourite beach property where ‘bitchiness’ prevails, carnal knowledge raises its frequently campy head, and life affirming camaraderie reigns supreme. These interconnected narratives sneak up on you when you may least expect it, in a single name or a highly charged, fiery event that lives and resurfaces in your memory from all of the fleeting and memorable stories that have come before. Including a dialogue for two divas, a monologue for a streetwise madcap malcontent, as well as a child’s memory of being sent to buy very personal products for his mother at the local drugstore, images of Tampax, talking bulls, and multi-limbed Elephant gods mingle with visions of an inanimate reindeer in drag sitting on the edge of a stage silently watching the performance of a seriocomic AIDS monologue. The blend of great tragedy and ecstatic joy marks this collection with the turn of every page. Culminating in the tragically quintessential ending for any lifetime, the final section delicately recounts the writers knowledge of a series of eleven suicides and suicide attempts that stand as life-affirming testaments to the epigraph used from a notorious writers repertoire. A line from Dorothy Parker’s famous short poem Resume – “you might as well…” begins the final quarter of the book, and stands as an over-arching theme for the entire collection. A testament to the bittersweet, dry, at times hilarious way of looking at all of the events that collaborate to make life worth examining, celebrating, living, loving, and enduring. A book that could only be written by ‘A [self-professed] Mad Bent Diva’ who was well past middle age before he realized that his name formed the anagram for what he would come to be and what he would come to cherish.
Taken alone and scrutinized, each of Bateman’s strands are their own wrappings of love and lament, humour and pathos. Some glitter cleverly, others sombre and dark. But as the reader savours the final installment, the realization dawns that these are indeed not just a collection of fascinating threads, but a unified tapestry of desperate beauty, paper‐dry wit and hopeful sadness.
an arts journalist and singer,
has written extensively for the LGBTQ
community newspaper XTRA in Toronto
David Bateman writes like an angel. Not one of those fluffy, cotton-headed angels, but the kind that take to the skies looking for adventure, romance, and sometimes a bit of rough trade. An angel in heels. Mad Bent Diva is not so much a “book” but a collage, a wunderkammer that brings together Bateman’s best and fondest – from dreamy, salted love poems to blunt, precisely realized memoirs. David Bateman is a national treasure; all pointy gold crowns and sharp, cutting rubies. Someday we will keep him in a vault, for safety. But not today.
is a Canadian poet, novelist, and arts journalist
who currently lives in Berlin.
Bateman is a gender outlaw on the lam: he refuses to be bound, gagged and detained in any gender binary, as do his most successful characters. The conceptual and emotional ambiguities of desire take centre-stage in his stories, and in the process, gender norms are tipped, offset, and mined for libidinal potential, but the effects of power remain as marks—sometimes violent ones—on the body and on the page.
is a poet and theorist
currently teaching Creative Writing
at the University of Calgary.