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Becca Klaver, China Cowboy, reviews, run

New review of Run at Denver Quarterly

Becca Klaver reviewed my book Run for Denver Quarterly. It’s a thoughtful review that is full of heart and you can read it here. Thank you Becca!

From Darker Than a Country Song:

Thinking about the paradoxes of Run leads me finally to the question of genre. Short’s writing is often called “hybrid,” but my sense is that this is not precise enough, because the fictional narrative element is so strong. Thinking about these questions of terminology, Alice Notley writes in her preface to Reason and Other Women (Chax, 2010), regarding the writing in that book: “Is it prose or poetry? It is of course poetry, which is much more a matter of sound and compression than of white space and line breaks. I am, as I’ve often said, trying to steal story back from prose to poetry.” Short’s achievement in Run is to “steal” for prose both the compressed sounds of poetry and the tugs and pangs of story. Terms such as “prose poems,” “short shorts,” and “flash fiction” are in rotation right now, but perhaps we need a new term such as “poetic novella” for series of linked prose poems that work as discrete entities but add up to a larger story. (“Novel-in-verse” comes close, but ultimately doesn’t work because “verse” implies lineation.) Or, perhaps we need a broader term that brackets a tradition, because it’s easy to see Run as an heir to, say, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, and as part of a larger contemporary cluster that might include Danielle Pafunda’s My Zorba, Cathy Park Hong’s Dance Dance Revolution, and Sabrina Orah Mark’s Tsim Tsum. That these are all written by women, and all contain elements of fantasy, sci-fi, myth, or fable, seems worth noting, too. When I read writing like this, I think of Adrienne Rich, who said 40 years ago in “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”: “For writers, and at this moment for women writers in particular, there is the challenge and promise of a whole new psychic geography to be explored.” The psyche Short explores in Run is indeed geographical, and the fantasia-maps she sketches open up new worlds even as they leave a trail back to the brutality women and girls endure, and sometimes survive, in the real world.

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