In Lisa Glatt’s The Nakeds, a young girl is struck by a car. Her parents marriage falls apart. The driver drives on. And Hannah spends the next decade recovering. Glatt read from The Nakeds at BookCourt in Brooklyn discussing the origins of the book and her own childhood trauma when she, like Hannah, was struck by a car.
The first thing she says is that she ultimately felt sympathy while writing Martin, the boy responsible for striking Hannah with the car. She thought she would dislike him, but she later realizes he ends up carrying that burden with him.
As a child, Glatt was hit by a car. She lost her spleen and ended up in a cast and on crutches for much of her childhood. Unlike in the novel, the driver that struck her stopped his car, and the boy, only seventeen, was also sober. She says she doesn’t remember the entire incident. She was only six, after all. But she remembered two things distinctly. First, she remembered being wheeled passed the gift shop and seeing things she would want. Second, she remembered her mother muttering “that poor boy,” knowing the driver would bear the weight of hitting a child.
Later, she wrote poems about the accident while in college. A journal editor read the poems and asked her if she was that girl from Manhattan Beach. It was a small community, Glatt explains, and everyone knew about the accident, about the little girl hit by a car.
“I’ve been writing about the car accident for years,” she says. She adds that with this novel she wanted to explore injury and illness and the impact that has on people. However, she says that while she might talk about the accident in an upcoming collection of essays she is working on, she doesn’t foresee writing about it in fiction anytime soon. She believes she has taken it as far as she can in fiction.
Often writers are given advice that they should not try to write about experiences while they are still in them. Glatt takes the opposing point of view: sometimes being in the experience can be helpful. When Glatt’s mother became sick, she wrote about the experiences as they were happening. She found it helpful because her mother was her best reader.
Writing fiction though means that a writer isn’t tied to the facts, Glatt says, which allows for more possibilities. “Fiction is permission to go where the story leads you.”