BY: VALERIE GILBERT
Dead mothers, missing husbands, disgusting dates, perverted “reverends,” seductive gurus, infamous ingrates, and cheese thieves. These are just a few of the cast of characters that pepper Valerie Gilbert’s true tales in Raving Violet.
Enter the world of a solitary but intrepid New Yorker. Orphaned as a young adult, this divorced, smartass metaphysician has sought solace and insight from philosophers, séances, channels and mediums—a path that has, inevitably, led her back to her formidable fortress within.
Join Valerie as she scales the castle walls on her journey for love, sex, sass, a chuckle, and really good chocolate. Love and Loss! Love and Glory! Love and Nausea! Raving Violet has it all.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: Raving Violet is just a wonderfully spicy book written by the equally spicy Valerie Gilbert, a native New Yorker. Her quick wit will leave you laughing out loud and her heartfelt stories will leave you reaching for the Kleenex box. Her insight is amazing. Her enthusiasm for life can be felt in her writing. The book is both a journey of discovery, as well as a lesson on living. She encourages us to “create our path, find our voice, be daring, be brave” and not let fear stop us from living. Gilbert talks about being human, taking risks, finding love, getting rid of the negative things in our lives, watching out for the charlatans of the world, and recognizing and embracing the things that are real and trustworthy. She talks of trusting our instinct, and finding our hearts.
Raving Violet takes us along on a captivating journey of tarot cards, gurus, séances, and sex objects as Gilbert recounts reconnecting with her mom, learning to trusting her gut, and finding the beauty that sometimes can’t be seen but which is hidden right in plain sight the whole time. You just have to know what to look for. She writes in a way that you almost feel you are there, walking beside her in her journey. She is a profound, writer, with heart and soul. Raving Violet is a book you just won’t want to put down, one you will want to share with others. I loved reading this book.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: What a delightful book! Raving Violet is a great read. It’s is witty, warm, moving, uplifting, and just downright fun. It’s also intelligently written and thought-provoking. It’s an account of the life and times of an independent, truth-seeking woman and a native New Yorker. While I have never been to New York, after reading this book, I feel like I have been. Raving Violet is the true story of the life of the author, Valerie Gilbert, who starts off the book by telling us not to have any fun. Which was a difficult proposition, since I had fun just reading the part where she’s telling me not to. I have never been into mediums, spiritualists, gurus, séances, or tarot cards, but after reading this book, I think I might consider them. I especially liked Gilbert’s philosophy on tarot card readings (which she also applies to life): If you were dealt a “bad hand,” then throw out those naughty cards and buy some new ones.” Now that is a philosophy I can live with!
Not only does Gilbert give us a view of her incredibly interesting life, she gives us a view of New York that few outsiders see: the ups, the downs, the good, the bad, the crazys, the what-the-f’s. As I mentioned above, I have never been to New York, partly because I have never had an occasion to go, but mostly because I would be terrified to go there, afraid of being mugged or worse. But I think if I had a guide like Gilbert, I’d risk it. I would love to meet this woman in person.
Embarrassing! Terrible! Bad! That’s what I thought as I started to review for this book the essays that began as my brand new blog back in September of 2011. It depressed me to read them. Maybe all my short stories were terrible, I’d just been deluding myself that they were good. Maybe I just sucked, generally? But as I continued to read, review, and edit the pieces, I realized just how powerful and necessary each one was to my process. I couldn’t have gotten to the third piece (“Stacking the Deck,” where I really start to find my voice) if I hadn’t written the first two.
Looking back on my first essay in September of 2011, unsure of where I was going, I decided to dive in by commenting on a piece I read in a local NYC paper I found on the bus. My first few chapters were rants (hence “Raving” Violet). As I started to review them for this book, I felt uncomfortable, but I don’t think they’re terrible anymore, in fact, I think they’re terrific. They represent the genesis of my voice. Follow the Yellow Brick Road. How do you get there from here? It often seems a daunting, insurmountable, undoable task, especially if you don’t know where you’re going.
Two quotes come to mind. One, from a poster I bought as a youngster at sleepaway music camp in Michigan: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” And from J.R.R. Tolkein: “All who wander are not lost.” Contradictory, aren’t they? I love them both. Confusion is a terrific state of mind to be in. It means you’re no longer stuck in the rut of thinking you know everything. You’re off-kilter, uncertain, and ready to carve new neural pathways in your brain if you keep pushing forward instead of reverting to old default modes. Confusion is a sign that great, imminent change is possible.
Could Dorothy have even contemplated the existence of Emerald City when she wandered the dusty roads of Kansas with her dog? Of course not. All she knew was that she had to leave what was known, but no longer safe, behind.
This is what I’ve learned. Bloom where you’re planted. Put one foot in front of the other. Start somewhere, ANYWHERE. But start. Go. Write. Be. Speak. Tap dance. Take that cooking class, learn Tuvan throat singing. Whatever it is you’re curious about, heed Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take it. Create your path. Find your voice. Be daring. Be brave. You’ll never do it if you judge and criticize everything you do and let fear freeze you in place. Trust the flow of life, the flow of your voice, your footsteps, and you will be flying joyously without a net before long. Now, get going!
DON’T HAVE ANY FUN!
September 26, 2011
That’s right, you heard me right, I said, “Do not have any fun.” That’s what the government wants you to do, or rather, the “rogue” element within our government, and the “Corporatocracy” that controls our G-men. I just walked by another gang of SWAT guys (and one tiny gal) all gussied up for serious combat on the corner of 42nd Street and Third Avenue. It was Sunday, September 25, 2011. What was the occasion? I don’t bother asking anymore, I just smile my love at them.
The last time I inquired as to why a small, heavily armed gang was on the corner of 57th Street and Third Avenue (perhaps protecting the Duane Reade drug store?) I got the generic response “Protecting the country, ma’am!” or something to that effect. I laughed and said, “Well, I sure feel safe! Carry on!” It amuses me no end that these soldiers are planted here to remind us of the fact that we are, according to them, “not safe.” I for one, am safe. I claim it, and I live it.
“Metro New York,” 9/22/11 posted a blurb: “NYPD WARNS OF CLUB TERROR.” I love it. Bring it on. Didn’t everybody read 1984? Brave New World? Lots of us were aware of the misuse and abuse of totally fabricated “TERROR ALERTS” during the Bush elections. Bill Maher and others (probably Michael Moore) commented on them freely. “Be Scared!” the government said. “We will protect you!” Better yet, you protect us. Enlist! It’s classic macho bullshit. “Don’t worry, little lady, I’ll take care of you.” America as John Wayne. America as “john,” period.
So the “Metro NY” piece says: “The NYPD doesn’t think any place in the city is safe from terrorism, even a thumping nightclub. After clubs were bombed overseas in recent years (that’s recent?) from London to Bali, the NYPD is concerned that a suicide bomber might try to do the same in a Manhattan bar. The police department issued its ‘best practices for nightlife establishments’ this week and warned bar owners to be prepared. The guide encourages owners to have a terrorism emergency plan in place. Police even suggested that bartenders and bouncers be on the lookout for possible suicide bombers, who may be concealing their hands or look nervous.” (Because everyone else in bars is totally relaxed with no hands in their pockets?)
As if bouncers don’t have enough to worry about with drunks, drugs, and guns. Now they’re on terror alert, working unofficially (and unpaid) for the government? “If you see something, say something” has been the New York City slogan since 9/11. I think: “Officer, I see trash all around and lots of homeless people in despair.” Regarding refuse on the subways the poster reads: “Don’t assume it was left by accident!” No? Now every derelict piece of luggage or jettisoned brown paper bag is a potential bomb. The dark powers that be are trying to instill and sustain a “state of fear” to keep us small and make sure their big guns get bigger.
I say, go to the club and have fun. Take the train and celebrate. Go to work and claim your day in joy. Rebuff “their” invitation to imbibe fear, the elixir of disempowerment. Rebuff their fascist propaganda to stay small, to let “big brother” take care of you, and of course, to hate the invisible (and ever-changing) enemy. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Who are “they” you ask? Anyone who sells fear to the masses. This is the Age of Aquarius and we are here to drink the waters of life, not death. We are here to enjoy peace, not submit to fear. Identify and ignore the fear-mongers. They are dinosaurs, and they are dying.
You go to that club, dance, have fun, then go home and celebrate your life and your freedom, which no one can take from you unless you willingly give it. If you want to stay safe, use a condom. Don’t drink and drive. Try to like, and God forbid, love, the person you’re sleeping with. Claim your God-given right to uplift yourself through prayer, meditation, right-thinking, right-living, and the empowerment of your Self as a Divine Being Living in Human Form. Amen.