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The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

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DEC 20-JAN 21 Issue
Fiction

Editor’s Note

We’re very excited to be publishing these two excerpts this month: one a much-anticipated reissue of a 1969 debut novel and the other a wondrously original vision that strikes at the very grammar of being.

Susan Taubes wrote only one novel, Divorcing, before ending her life in 1969. Her fusion of dream and reality—narrator Sophie Blind proclaims early on, “Yes, I’m dead”—adds a veil to brilliant observational accounts like you might find in contemporaries Renata Adler and Elizabeth Hardwick. The narrative proximity reminds me most of the conversation between Emily Dickinson’s speaker who died for beauty and the other, lain in an adjoining tomb, who died for truth.

Helen Marten might be familiar to readers as the British sculptor who won the 2016 Turner Prize. Her work in whatever medium speaks to the intersection of image, language, and thought. Spend a few hours in a dictionary and it will seem as if every word is a dead metaphor in one way or another and that language is the fossil record of thought. Rarely do you encounter meaning in the making. It’s a stunning experience, and one that I had reading The Boiled in Between. I want to say it’s one of the most meaningful books I’ve read in recent years, but ‘meaningful’ comes short; with the ever present sense of reawakening to the world, Marten expands meaning. Stylistically, the novel toggles between the voices of a chorus (the Messrs.), Ethan, and Patrice, each represented here. But this debut novel is also a dialogue between architecture and the elements, a vast liminal plain between imaginings and the strange materiality of bodies.

Contributor

Will Chancellor

WILL CHANCELLOR is the author of the novel A Brave Man Seven Stories Tall. His has written for Bookforum, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, Interview Magazine, The Rumpus, and The Scofield, among others

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The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

All Issues