Getty's The Junk Lottery
takes us through a suicide in order to
bring us more squarely back into life.
Getty's prose is as earthy , pungent
and redolent of a
midsummer's night as her
protaganist, Alma . . . Equal parts
harrowing and tender.
This novel is a treatise for the wise.
If you're not wise, it will certainly
help you get that way.
John Payne, author of Kentuckiana
and North of Patagonia
ABOUT THE JUNK LOTTERY
Junk Lottery belongs to the bildungsroman tradition
a novel whose subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual
development of a young man. My goal is to tell the feminine experience
of self-discovery by adding a few lace curtains to the typically
male models of coming of age and vision/quest. I have added a
dash of mythology for seasoning. The heroine in The Junk Lottery,
Alma MacCallum, a fifty-something widow, takes a journey inward.
Her concept of herself is forever after altered.
Marrying, family ties, and caring for others, figure as frequently
in womens identity stories as adventure and test situations
do in male versions of initiation. In contrast to the male initiants
pursuit of rights, initiation or awakening in womens stories
is couched in terms of conflict between responsibilities to others
and care of self. In The Junk Lottery, that kind of conflict erupts
after years of taking care of others. Alma begins her quest after
her husband has committed suicide.
Her inner voyage is her choice, a deliberate decision, but as
she proceeds, Almas flashbacks, dreams, and visions suggest
that the adventure is not entirely in her control. She receives
unrelenting spiritual help in the form of visions and dreams.
Her lifelong friend Petra both helps and challenges; Grace, her
daughter, questions Almas commitment to family. George,
another long-time friend, tempts her to reenter the world shes
trying to leave, with an offer of marriage. Alma looks back at
her life and discovers wonderful and awful qualities about herself,
the self that's been hidden beneath her husband's and their children's
The Junk Lottery is about Alma, a woman created by my imagination,
but it could as easily be about many woman of her generation.
Alma learned to, as Clarissa Pinkola Estés put it, make
pretty all manner of grotesqueries whether they are lovely or
not. This early training to be nice causes women to
override their intuitions. In that sense, says Estés,
they are actually purposefully taught to submit to the predator.
Imagine a wolf mother teaching her young to be nice
in the face of an angry ferret or a wily diamondback rattler.
Alma, like Stephen Dedalus, is as vulnerable to the predator within
herself as she is to her late husband Mack. She is captured by
her own interior stalker, but in the end can she become wiser,
stronger as she finds her authentic voice? Does she have the courage
to look keenly at herself? Does she have the ability to stand
what she sees? Is it possible for her to reclaim her life?