cover image Drifts


Kate Zambreno. Riverhead, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-08721-3

Zambreno’s immersive, exciting experiment in autofiction (after Book of Mutter) features a writer setting out to write a book called Drifts. The narrator, beholden to a contract, describes herself “filled with an incandescence toward the possibility of a book.” She meditates on the life of Rilke, reads Wittgenstein, and, in photo-studded accounts of walks around New York, patterns her work after those of Robert Walser and W.G. Sebald. But mostly, the narrator describes her time spent not writing: she cares for her dog, Genet; makes notes while on walks; emails her friends; and procrastinates by surfing the internet. Thus, Zambreno offers an enticing chronicle of how a book might actually be written—dramatizing how a writer’s work affects her life, and vice versa—filled with small moments of magic (“Today, after writing about my lost raccoon cat, I spy her”). After the narrator discovers she is pregnant, she turns toward developing a portrait of a writer contending with her own body. Zambreno succeeds at capturing her narrator’s experience of time and the unavoidable transformations it brings. The result is a captivating deconstruction of the writer’s process that will reward readers in search for meaning. (May)