Book 6: Jenny Boully

So, I love Jenny Boully. I reviewed one of her books, The Book of Beginnings and Endings for Orange Quarterly here: 

This woman is so brilliant. She always uses the form of the book to talk about the content.  For example, in Beginnings and Endings every single page is either a beginning or ending to a story.  She doesn’t give you the middle, just drops you straight into the project that she is doing.  In that way, the reader begins to sort of make up their own middle to the stories, a middle that is comprised by fragmented storytelling and making meaning across jumps in logic.

The Body is a book that is done entirely in footnotes. It is not only beautiful and well crafted language, but a work of art in itself and a reflection on the process of writing,  What does it mean to write a book where the whole body of the text is erased? Where you have to footnote silence? So much of the book is a commentary on her own body, and her own self feeling erased and silenced in many ways.  In one footnote, Boully writes:

“35. I was the lonely tripod. I was the empty cup of tea left behind.” 

One of the narrative threads in this book is her relationship to “The Great Poet,” which serves as a metaphor for her understanding the process of writing, and how lonely that can feel. She writes about how she writes to find affection but then is constantly rebuked by “The Great Poet,” who claims that she “emotes” too much and handles her with violent disregard when she pleas for help and advice. 

The whole book explores themes of loss, disappearance, and absence in a way where the form fits the context. It is an extremely guarded piece of writing, but one that opens up the more you think about it.  I think its an essential book to read, especially for writers who are interesting in interrogating their craft. 




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