Welcome to the Massachusetts Review's Working Titles! Working Titles are e-publications of prose too long for our print pages. Working Titles will be published bimonthly.
Working Titles are made possible with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Five Colleges, Inc., and the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, as well as private donors.
Jen Cross's Night Hands is a dark fairy tale that echoes the narrative style popularized by the Brothers Grimm. Night Hands is an exploration of female agency in a dystopian patriarchy reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale where even just the sight of a woman's hands is a blasphemous, lewd crime. Like her mother before her and her sisters, Tüz prepares her husband's meals, nurtures the garden, sews their clothing, cans their preserves. All this she does while hiding her slender, delicate hands from sight by intricate veils on her dress sleeves protect the sight from the wandering eyes of boys and men—a woman's hands are only to be seen by her husband. Before she sleeps, her husband "unhands" her, removing her hands and rendering her helpless. Then one night she is jolted awake by a pair of phantom hands—hands that are strong, playful, erotic, and vindictive. They seem to have a mind of their own and Tüz must decide whther to embrace their anarchy or dedicate herself to a life that no longer feels quite so perfect.
Jen Cross is a the author of Writing Ourselves Whole: Using the Power of Your Own Creativity to Recover and Heal from Sexual Trauma (Mango, 2017), which Eve Ensler called “a raw, powerful, necessary, wise and practiced guidebook to the revolutionary practice of finding the words, language and voice to transform suffering,” and the co- editor of Sex Still Spoken Here: An Erotic Reading Circle Anthology. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in over fifty anthologies and periodicals, including Nobody Passes, The Healing Art of Writing 2010, Under the Gum Tree, The Elephants, Sinister Wisdom, Visible: A Femmethology (Vol. 1), and Best Sex Writing 2008. Cross has facilitated sexuality and sexual trauma survivors writing workshops for over fifteen years, has worked with hundreds of writers, through private workshops and in collaboration with colleges, social change organizations, and other institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the U.S. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and an MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College, and has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Art Center.