Aurora Mattia was born in Hong Kong, has lived in Brooklyn and elsewhere, and lives in Texas. Her writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, the Renaissance Society’s exhibition Nine Lives, on her Onlyfans, and in RISD Museum’s exhibition any distance between us She is a frequent collaborator with photographer Elle Pérez; their portraits of her have appeared in the Carnegie Museum, the Whitney Biennial, Aperture magazine, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, The Fifth Wound, is now available from Nightboat Books. Her second book, a story and essay collection called Unsex Me Here, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press in Fall 2024. She is working on a novel about a tgirl country singer, set in Austin in 1974.
“A Chaos of Mythic Scraps,” an interview with Aurora Mattia
This interview was conducted via e-mail by Interview Editor Rich Duhamell. Of the process, they said, “The Fifth Wound is unlike any other piece of literature I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Aurora Mattia crafts a kaleidoscopic tapestry of longing with baroque prose and crisp grounding that places readers in both the now and in the grander scheme of love across the ages. It was an amazing experience to learn about her approach to language.” In this interview, Aurora Mattia talks about her process, the musician featured prominently within the work, and how intertwined art and sex work can be.
Superstition Review: The opening sentence to your novel introduces readers to a narrator with your same name and (now former) Twitter handle @silicone_angel. I have, unfortunately, arrived late to that party, and all that remains are a few screenshots of humorous tweets and the general notion that your Twitter was infamously popular. Because your work plays so closely with autofiction, are post-Twitter readers missing out on a contextualizing experience? Are you finding a new, belated angle to your work through the absence of that initial link back to your internet presence?
Aurora Mattia: Aurora is not my own name. It is the field in which I attempt to bind my particulars to my dreams. My dreams are a chaos of mythic scraps which, borne by generations of gossips and storytellers, by names and voices known and unknown, by will of Empire and resistance to Empire, have imprinted themselves on my mind. My dreams are the force that make it possible to remix my particulars according not to the melodic structure of some divine song, but, instead, to some of the wavelengths of deep time. Whatever riff expresses itself through me, expresses itself also through the rifts of hydrothermal heat vents at the bottom of the sea.
Put simply, “Aurora” was an attempt to capture some vibration of deep time in the resonant net of my own idiom.
Meanwhile @silicone_angel was the economic expression of the same. It was the attempt, through porn and persona and turn of phrase—bound up in the terrifying and transfixing medium of Twitter, which stole the pleasures of privacy while also enabling certain intimacies and inspirations—to make a living by means of dreaming. I was binding my particulars—my body, my daily interactions with strangers in public space, oblique references to my romances—to inherited myths (some ancient, some recent) in a more extemporaneous space and thereby gathering the money and passion necessary for writing. The passion of an audience energized the solitary act of writing. The money enabled it.
SR: In an interview with Poets & Writers, you cite the early “I am no longer the author of private letters for the eyes of one man” as the first line you wrote in The Fifth Wound. Knowing your words were intended for the many while often addressing just the one, how did you navigate the voyeuristic ‘you’ of Ezekiel and the ‘you’ of the general reader?
AM: I don’t really know how to answer you because so much of the book is consumed by the question. The book is the best answer I can give. But I do know that the foremost question in my mind when writing about Ezekiel, Noel and Velvet was how to reveal as few particulars as possible about the people who inspired them while still communicating the sense and substance of their presences, the imprint they’ve made on my mind.
Aurora is not my own name. And Ezekiel is only an expression of the mythosphere surrounding my memories of a former lover, the lover around whom my sense of meaning rearranged itself when I was twenty-two years old, and again when I was twenty-eight. So much of me is Ezekiel: not my ex-boyfriend himself, but the aftershocks—wave after wave after wave—of our brief and intense contact. So addressing Ezekiel is really a way of addressing the ghost of a fairy who haunts my mind, which is to say, it’s a way of addressing my mind, which is to say, addressing Ezekiel is inseparable, for me, from the act of writing.
SR: In that same interview, you talked about how rewriting older passages seemed to soften them under reflection. How do you think returning to this work again in the future may further complicate it?