Circadian: Essays

Chelsey Clammer. Red Hen, $14.95 trade paper (178p) ISBN 978-1-59709-603-4
Clammer (BodyHome), a contributor to McSweeney’s and the Rumpus, engages with trauma, letting go, and the pleasures of writing in this collection of 12 lyric essays. She is a compassionate and self-reflective narrator, weaving the personal into experiments with form. In “Outline for Change,” she includes mathematical formulas and a diagrammed sentence in recounting her father’s descent into alcoholism and chronic pain from cyclically recurring headaches. Throughout the collection, Clammer moves between the serious and the playful, confessing how her father’s struggles and how being a victim of sexual violence affected her, but also reveling in the joys of language. In “I Could Title This Wavering,” she tells us: “I know I’m really into verbs and nouns right now. Which is to say writing. Pen to page then fingers to keys, QWERTYing.” She analyzes oppression through the lexicon in “Mother Tongue,” an essay on how phrases such as “wife beater” and “Indian giver” denote inequality. For “Trigger Happy,” Clammer interviews Lacy M. Johnson, a writer and survivor of sexual violence, to arrive at the conclusion, “Push harder to think critically about your discomfort.” Each essay builds on the one before, demonstrating the author’s evolution as a writer and survivor. Clammer has successfully bridged genres here while exploring difficult subjects. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/10/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
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