In a 2007 essay in Tricycle, Hannah Tennant-Moore wrote about the Buddha’s “Reflections on Repulsiveness.” In the “Reflections,” the Buddha advises his followers to ruminate on the very corporeality of our bodies, down to the “swollen, blue, and festering” bodies in a cemetery. This, Tennant-Moore points out, makes us “aware of all the intricate processes and parts that make up our bodies” so that “we are less likely to identify the overall image as ‘me.’ Disdain for our bodies is, in fact, born out of detachment, not identification.”
That unforgiving process of examining intimately the bare self—dismembered, grotesque, and alien—is dramatized in Tennant-Moore’s strong first novel, Wreck and Order. What, the title asks, is being wrecked and ordered? The contradictory, messy self of a young high-school dropout in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. Continue reading
Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney: “Jed–young, gay, black, out of rehab and out of prospects in his hometown of Chicago–flees to the city of his fantasies, a museum of modernism and decadence: Berlin. The paradise that tyranny created, the subsidized city isolated behind the Berlin Wall, is where he’s chosen to become the figure that he so admires, the black American expatriate.”
The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal: “The Heart takes place over the twenty-four hours surrounding a fatal accident and a resulting heart transplant as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death.”
The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee: “Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past.”
Also this month: We’ll review new releases Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore and Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue.