Calling Vienna a book is an insult to the protagonist. It's more like an experience. A gentle whisper to the dark side of our consciousness. The insecurities. The human desire. The jealousy. The pleasure. The uncertainty.
There was something so beautiful about the black and grey cover. It featured an artist's rendition of the main character, Vienna, sitting in a field of flowers. She is sitting amongst so much beauty and nature and yet she is the centerpiece. Soft, yet captivating. Just like the way that the name "Vienna" is stylized on that same cover. There is some mystery buried within the simplicity. Just like Vienna herself, leaving you with more questions than answers. And I think that's kind of the point.
Vienna the book is a mirror of Vienna the person. She is not to be read, but consumed. She is to be explored, never fully understood. Weaving between experiences, impressions and streams of consciousness in a way that creates the feeling of intimacy. "I know her" you think for a moment...and then you don't. Each chapter can be read in any order and still piece together to form the beautiful work of art that is her...with the same impact left on your emotions, no matter which direction you choose. She quietly says "follow me" like the end of that "V" in Vienna...is that an arrow? A white rabbit? I am not quite sure which way she is going, but I know that in this moment, I will follow her to the end.
There is something about her, despite what seems like an ordinary set of characteristics, that makes you feel drawn to her. In her presence, you either love or hate her but you cannot get away with feeling nothing at all. She is familiar enough that she could be you, your sister, your mother, your cousin, your aunt, or your lover...but not quite like them. No, she is special. One of one.
I've never truly sat and read a book cover to cover before. On my way from New York to San Juan...a 4 hour trip I was planning to spend binging Youtube and Netflix videos. On a whim, I decided to pull Vienna out of my bag. Although, now that I think about it, it would be more accurate to say that I was summoned like a sailor to a siren. And, since she was in the mood to come out, I began to unfold the layers of Vienna. I couldn't stop. It was not a mindless, ravenous page turning experience...but more like a gentle unraveling. The deeper I explored Vienna's world, through the lens of each of the characters' perspectives, the more resistance was building against me putting the book down. Even as flight attendants came around with drinks and snacks...something I would normally be excited for, my focus stayed on Vienna. At one point I felt like I was her...or maybe it just seemed like we were one because of our intimacy. Then, in the same unexpected way that it all began, it was over. And I was left alone, holding the book, letting out one final exhale. This was just before the pilot announced we would begin landing. I wanted more, but I knew that was all she had to give. And so I let her go, beginning my descent back to the ground from the high I was on, feeling content to have even known her.
I think it's quite fitting that my chocolate bar melted and dripped onto one of the pages. I could hear Vi's laugh as I licked my fingers and desperately tried to wipe away the evidence with a napkin. How could I defile her? And yet, in that same instance I smiled to myself, knowing that stains add character and tell a story within a story. You could still see the words, I did not stifle her voice, so she forgave me graciously.
It's no mistake that the book is good. Jade Brown is a talented poet and writer. You can feel the intention that was poured into the words. You can sense endless hours spent studying, writing, and refining her craft. You can tell she has a lot of meaningful experiences under her belt. Yet the final presentation is not in any way pretentious...it's perfect. In the most perfectly imperfect way. There are so many layers and subtleties tied to mental health, raw emotion, trauma, self-identity, and other heavy themes that were covered in a way that felt authentic and unforced. Jade has perfectly captured the nuances of the human experience as told by a wide array of perspectives and emotions.
You have to read the book to truly understand what I mean. Check it out here, and support an undeniably talented young writer.
Thank you, Jade, for curating this experience. Your voice is one of a kind and needs to be felt. I wish you much success on your endeavors and hope to see more of your work in the future.
Anya Nova, founder/CEO