The Body in Four Parts

Janet Kauffman, Author Graywolf Press $18 (128p) ISBN 978-1-55597-179-3
Novelist ( Collaborators ), short-story writer and poet Kauffman has a way of re-envisioning what prose is able to be, casting toward an expanded consciousness that can take in almost any human element; as a writer, she is a convinced democrat, evoking characters, metaphors, physical things and relationships in an inclusively imaginative assortment of words. In her prose, words and perceptions are infinitely changeable and intimately linked; to read (or write), it seems, is to live. Kauffman's talent is ably demonstrated in this novel, which resists its natural boundaries. The Body in Four Parts is organized, as its title suggests, in a quadruple structure: its ``parts'' are titled Water, Earth, Fire and Air, and Kauffman does not limit her experiments to that framework. Instead, she explores ``the dream of the body,'' which is ``to know a place bodily and to say so. To take words into and out of itself.'' The body, ``recalcitrant in the extreme,'' must be fathomed in words and in the experiences of her characters: Babe, the narrator; her sister Dorothea (aka S.); her friend Margaretta; her brother, Jean-Paul; and a few others, knit in a physical and verbal community of ``simultaneous weathers'' that keep shifting in brief blocks of text. Kauffman's multivocal, multimodal experiment is rewarding, and the design of the book--simple and expansive--strengthens it. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 128 pages - 978-1-4804-3452-3
Open Ebook - 180 pages - 978-1-938604-10-2
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