Cleo’s raging bibliomania was only ever assuaged by a brief, dissatisfying brush with love. The alarming distractions of amour fou (and the sexy feelings that went with it) led Cleo to take up writing poetry in addition to reading it. The only way she was able to process her bewildering emotions—the most predominant being terror and lust—was to record them. The object of Cleo’s virginal affections moved on, as involuntary muses often will, leaving Cleo with nothing more than one badly written play and a notebook full of illegible (and rather purple) poetic tributes to the joys and sorrows of love. She burned the notebook and returned to the safer terrain of reading but was mortified to discover that once the libido is awakened (and the heart along with it), it’s awfully hard to put back to sleep. She’d thought a good dose of Chekhov would help, but as it turned out, even Chekhov had an unhealthy preoccupation with matters of the heart. The only writer who seemed to be able to take Cleo’s mind off sex and romance was Ayn Rand. And now Mary Shelley.
From Marnie Woodrow, Spelling Mississippi (2002).