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Karen Green, Bough Down Maggie Nelson has it...

May 13, 2013

Karen Green, Bough Down

Maggie Nelson has it covered:

The book consists of a series of prose poems, or individuated chunks of poetic prose, interspersed with postage-stamp-sized collages made by Green, who is also a visual artist. Collectively the text bears witness to the 2008 suicide of her husband, the writer David Foster Wallace, and its harrowing aftermath for Green…

Upon first read, Bough Down feels disorienting and surreal — like entering a drugged wormhole of grief, pills, and barely tolerable engrams and emotions, which appear via allegory, hallucination, synecdoche, and blur. Upon rereading, however, the bones of the book’s structure become admirably clear.

My favorite passage:

I take your parents to the lighthouse, I do. There is nothing but September fog to cover our shame, and your father laughs just like you, at the opacity. I want to eat the laugh, I want to rub it on my chest like camphor, I want to make a sound tattoo. I also want to bash these two small people together and see if a collision of DNA will give me my life back.

In the morning, my wife pointed out our son didn’t have kneecaps yet, and later that night I read this line: “I worry I broke your kneecaps when I cut you down.”

Filed under: my reading year 2013

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