cover image Places I’ve Taken My Body: Essays

Places I’ve Taken My Body: Essays

Molly McCully Brown. Persea, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-89255-513-0

Poet Brown (The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded) explores living with cerebral palsy in her fine prose debut. Brown contrasts the limitations that readers might expect her condition, classed by the medical establishment as a “movement disorder,” to impose on her life, by showing it has actually been characterized by mobility, not stasis, recounting her travels throughout the U.S. and the world. In “Something’s Wrong with Me,” she writes that she’s “so tired of talking about disability” and “about my body and other people’s bodies.” Occasionally, the sentiments ring overly familiar, as when Brown reflects, in “Calling Long Distance,” on the division between the body and the self: “There was my damaged body, and then there was the rest of me.” However, Brown mostly overcomes the potential for overwrought sentimentality, due to her careful and exacting use of language. “Chronic pain makes you good at abandoning yourself,” she explains in “The Broken Country: On Disability and Desire,” a candid discussion of sexuality. Brown’s work leaves readers with a lyrical look at living within the confines of the body. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (June)