Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Magdalena Zurawski's The Bruise (Review*)
As Eileen Myles blurbs of Magdalena Zurawski’s *The Bruise*: “The real story of a female coming to age is not sex but coming to write.” Hence, the bruise of the book’s title: an otherworldly initiatory mark of both sexual difference (becoming woman, becoming gay), and the androgyny of becoming writer. Like a James or Blanchot, Zurawski tracks the loneliness of the writer’s imagination, becoming vigilant to it as it occurs in writing, leaving behind a record of the mind left to its own convoluted patterns and self-reflexive pleasures. The unnamed protagonist is dictated to by a door knob, but also by her own internal monologues and mental pictures. As she falls in love, her desire is kindled and nurtured by the need for someone else to acknowledge her bruise, and care for it. That she receives her bruise from a Rilkean angel while translating the "Duino Elegies" is telling since Rilke could have written in anticipation of Zurawski’s debut: "That is why this too must be the criterion for rejection or choice: whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else's solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of your own depths, which he learns of only through what steps forth, in holiday clothing, out of the great darkness." Zurawski brings her reader to the heart of a solitude that all writers recognize, and guard with their lives. She also provides a crucial link between an emergent generation of “experimental” fiction writers and The New Narrative movement (writers such as Dodie Bellamy, Bruce Boone, Dennis Cooper, Robert Gluck, Kevin Killian, and Eileen Myles) which has only recently got some of the wider critical recognition and circulation that is its due.
*this review was originally intended for Time Out, New York, which has a 250 max. word count for their shorter reviews.