Body Geographic

Barrie Jean Borich, Author
Barrie Jean Borich. Univ. of Nebraska, $17.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-8032-3985-2
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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From the first evocative, disturbing scene of receiving an unexpectedly painful lower-back tattoo of a “dual city skyline” of her childhood home Chicago and her adopted home Minneapolis, Borich (My Lesbian Husband) enlists the reader in a gritty, poetic tour of her personal geography. Layers of memory, history, and conjecture create a palimpsest of cultural and family lore and personal recollection, accompanied by a collection of maps and images, both physical and metaphysical, that track human imagination across time and boundaries—the 1668 map of Bohemia as a rose by Christopher Vetter; the “big blond body of Miss Manifest Destiny” floating over westward-bound settlers in John Gast’s 1872 painting American Progress; the “city in the middle of Linnea’s brain”—an x-ray of the tumor in Borich’s lesbian husband’s frontal lobe. The book itself is chaptered as a series of “maps” and “insets” navigating Borich through the “memory and dissonance” of her Croatian immigrant family of mine and mill workers, her own northward migration, the politics and experience of gender ambiguity, and the spirit of place. “Words are maps,” she writes, “and maps say more about where we think we’ve been than where we actually reside.” 25 illus. (Mar.)
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