cover image Sight


Jessie Greengrass. Hogarth, $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-525-57460-6

Greengrass’s debut novel (after the story collection An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It) follows an unnamed narrator as she wrestles with new motherhood, weaving her memories into a thoughtful portrait of what it is to be both a parent and a child. The novel is divided into three acts, each corresponding to a broad period in the narrator’s life: her mother’s death and her own grieving; childhood summers spent with her intimidating, psychoanalyst grandmother (known only as Dr. K); and her pregnancy before the birth of her first child. Each of these sequences is in turn partnered with accounts from the development of modern medicine: in the first section, it’s Wilhelm Röntgen and the discovery of X-rays; the second is Sigmund and Anna Freud’s development of psychoanalysis; the third is John and William Hunter pioneering the field of anatomy. Unifying the narrator and the scientists is the singular desire to look inward (literally or figuratively) and seek “the resolution of a complicated pattern into one that could be understood.” Greengrass writes with precision and honesty, providing an unconventional but nuanced, meditative experience. (Aug.)