On Jessica Bozek's The Tales

I just devoured Jessica Bozek's The Tales. It's available from Les Figues Press

I am not that great at writing off-the-cuff book reviews, so I will be brief (and hopefully galvanizing). The Tales is a slim volume full of prose poems/fragments/stories that speak in a number of voices about violence, victimization, and myth-making. It traces the songs, poems, stories that surround the aftermath of a terrible crime, committed as an act of war, in some dystopian perhaps-future.

The reader gets to hear from the Lone Survivor of the atrocity, but also the tailors, architects, engineers and claims adjusters who must attend to the life of the survivor. The dogs, birds, and a chorus of dead also speak on the before, during, and after. Bozek includes notes at the end of the book to trace some of the scholarship and artistic inspiration that has informed all of the tales that make up The Tales. She borrows from and is moved to create by works as disparate as critical analyses of war memorials, Ojibwa and Odawa tales, and a wide range of 20th century art and poetry. 

As the central narrative of the Lone Survivor becomes revealed through the mouths of various perspectives, Bozek investigates the language that victims and perpetrators alike use to make sense of (and attempt to forget) the aftermath of violence. From ordinary objects–family photographs, sweaters that unravel, old batteries, and lightbulbs–to the remnants of destroyed art and architecture, an annihilated nation is brought into reality, and the Lone Survivor’s story is simultaneously documented and invalidated, becoming “a memorial that will disintegrate over time, gray and fray as most of the dead did not have a chance to.”
— Les Figues Press

I committed a long time ago to working my way through the growing pile of friends' and recommended indie press books that I add to each AWP. This is the first of what I hope will be regular installments.