Before

Carmen Boullosa, trans. from the Spanish by Peter Bush. Deep Vellum, $14.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-941920-28-2
In Mexican poet Boullosa's (Texas) second novel, a ghost recounts the hauntings of her childhood in order to conquer fear. When the narrator is a young girl, one of her classmates invites her into the school's hen coop, where the girls begin to hear strange footsteps approaching. These footsteps follow the narrator after the classmate's sudden death and are accompanied by other odd situations: her scissors mysteriously slaughter a turtle, a tree moves away from her to deny her shade, and ink marks on a jacket turns into live spiders. All the while, the narrator has to grapple with the fact that she is growing up in a terrifying world with a family who cannot understand her, providing an altogether fresh take on the coming-of-age story. Boullosa's prose, constructing a monologue that tracks the narrator's consciousness (complete with lengthy comical tangents), comes to life on the page as the narrator's eerie childhood becomes more and more frightening and devastating. Boullosa manages to merge humor with panic seamlessly in this short novel, and though readers know that the narrator is a ghost, the suspense over how that came to be makes this a thrilling story. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2016
Release date: 08/01/2016
Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-941920-29-9
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