M Archive: After the End of the World

Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Duke Univ., $24.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-0-8223-7084-0
In this groundbreaking second installment of her “speculative documentary” triptych, Gumbs (Spill) blends real and imagined academic research to map a post-apocalyptic landscape where survivors narrate frightening consequences “after and with a multitude of small and large present apocalypses.” The work is grounded by scholar M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred, which serves as a source text. Gumbs shares this dystopian vision of “living in a world that didn’t taste right” through an archival reading of natural elements—dirt, sky, fire, and ocean—tempered with “Black feminist metaphysics,” an ancestral wisdom centered around daily acts of simple resistance such as breathing. For Gumbs, liberation comes through memory and acceptance of the present (and future) condition: “all the dead being here anyway and all of us here being obviously doomed, we let go of that particular game. and started breathing. and saw our hands.// we let go.// i felt like i could fly.” This is an impressive archive “written in collaboration with the survivors” and the mythology that Gumbs develops from the artifacts of future black life and memory works to reveal an existence “on the verge of regenerating the cells that would let us dream deep enough to remember.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 03/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 248 pages - 978-0-8223-7069-7
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