I wrote the entire first draft of the novel in a notebook back in March of 2008 while recovering from an appendectomy, staring out a window. The cover image for the novel, seen here, was designed by my friend Kenny Dumas (who also did the cover for my prose/poetry collection, Pseudo-Masochism).
Lepers and Mannequins is a mock novel, a surreal allegory about a leper colony warring with a tribe of mannequins over spare parts they need to put themselves back together. The novel’s two protagonists, Jaundice (a female mannequin) and Quall (a male leper), are in love in the midst of this war, recalling Romeo and Juliet. Through satire, the novel explores how disconnected people are from each other and themselves because of underlying issues like personal and cultural identity, love, sex, dominance and ownership, and how humans tend to objectify other humans for their own purposes, including women, but mostly just people they don’t know or understand.
In this latter sense, the novel also deals with the very human concern of war, and the possession of finite natural resources (in the novel, those resources being spare parts/limbs), and how humans on any side of any conflict must, by necessity, project the enemy as always plastic, two-dimensional, mannequin-like, because, if those fighting actually thought of the enemy as human, they might feel empathetic. The fact that humans in the novel rebuild themselves using mannequin parts shows how, through striving at any cost to maintain their humanity and their identity, they ultimately lose it. This is the mannequin metaphor, and suggests a surprising parallel: The mannequins were themselves once human...
Early versions of two chapters from the novel appeared in Ben Spivey and