Out of Nowhere into Nothing

Caryl Pagel. FC2, $17.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-57366-186-7
Poet Pagel (Twice Told) explores themes of the coincidental, uncanny, and paranormal in this frequently brilliant but sometimes unwieldy essay collection. She touches on a wide range of subjects, from history and literature to math, art, and architecture; from small-town life or urban goings-on to the day-to-day of ivory tower denizens. The narrative threads Pagel weaves are delightfully if somewhat transgressively entertaining, and convey a sense of intimacy with those in her life: parents, siblings, colleagues, lovers, friends, and enemies. The prose is luminous (“Bright beams shimmer and shake—stars sparkle in the mirror of your stare”), and Pagel’s insights about her experience of mental illness never totter into the maudlin or trite; indeed, her observations are notable in that she bravely takes a stab at answering difficult questions, such as what constitutes love: “To love is to mesmerize and be mesmerized by—to pay attention—and requires maybe more than anything an enchanting narrative.” Unfortunately, the collection is marred by Pagel’s choice to omit paragraph breaks from entire chapters and include a number of nearly page-long sentences, which read as self-indulgent and gimmicky. Nevertheless, fans of Joyce Carol Oates and To the Lighthouse will find much to love. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/19/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-57366-888-0
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