cover image The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries

The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries

Jessa Crispin. Univ. of Chicago, $16 ISBN 978-0-226-27845-2

Crispin’s unusual and absorbing travelogue pursues some of her favorite dead artists to their places of exile, intent on learning how they were able to “scrape their lives clean and start again elsewhere.” The Bookslut founder considers Igor Stravinsky’s flight from occupied France for Switzerland, Margaret Anderson’s flight from an indecency charge after she serialized James Joyce’s Ulysses, and Somerset Maugham’s flight from an unbearable marriage, and she contemplates “those who use their force of will to change the direction of their own story.” Her affinity for the invisible woman (Nora Barnacle), the ambitious woman (Rebecca West), and the undomesticated, “unfit” woman (Maud Gonne) only gives Crispin a slight hold on understanding her own experience, the restlessness that slingshots her from place to place. Smart, brash, and self-aware, Crispin is a fearless observer, a purveyor of odd and wonderful detail, and an unflinching witness to her own stifling mental state. Though the big questions as well as the personal conflicts go unresolved, Crispin’s swift intelligence, fierce empathy, and dark humor offer up great insights as she discovers, if not a home, then an “ability to move through the world” and survive it.[em] Agent: Judy Heiblum, Sterling Lord Literistic.(Oct.) [/em]