Notes from no Man's Land, Eula Biss
I'm at the airport. My flight has been delayed. So to kill time I went into the airport bookstore. I'm always fascinated by these as a glimpse into what normal America actually reads. Then I usually look at the Mary Oliver books in the poetry section & think "Oh, what philistines & then I begin to chew the skin off the backs of my hands." But this tiny airport bookstore nook had Anne Lauterbach & Tate & Daniel Yang in the poetry section. And looking around I realized that someone who makes poor decisions about how to stock an airport bookstore was stocking this airport bookstore.
Which is all to say that I found Eula Biss' new book there, which JMW had only recently mentioned. I liked her book The Baloonist from back when & I had some time to kill so I picked it up. I want to tell you about the first essay. That first essay. When i read the last paragraph of it I found myself unable to breathe. Literally, my lungs would not fill. It's so good. So perfect.
Not every essay in the book is a banger, the "my version of NY" essay is the weakest, but this is an incredibly strong book. Biss, especially when she confronts assumptive social constructs of race, is able to lead with her urge tho think about a subject, rather than forcing the aesthetics of a text to do her thinking for her. When she is on, these essays truly feel like she had to write them.