cover image This Blue Novel

This Blue Novel

Valerie Mejer Caso, trans. from the Spanish by Michelle Gil-Montero. Action (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (140p) ISBN 978-0-989804-87-5

In announcing her latest collection as a "novel," Mexican poet Mejer Caso (Rain of the Future) calls immediate attention to boundaries. This is a mesmerizing verse narrative of returning to one's home only to find it gone, with nary a "whiff of garlic or spilled paint" left, as well as a mournful meditation on being caught in life's seams, "Along a bend of light" or in the "cracks in the page." It is also a book of borders, of the frail line separating memory from truth and life from death. (The book's en face translations make all of these borders literal.) Mejer Caso, who is also a painter, draws the reader through images of lush vegetation, fogged afternoons, and the glittering shards of her ancestors. Black-and-white photographs punctuate the narrative, further blurring genre considerations. In the seams, in the blue line between sea and sky, against the faint blue of fresh death, even the blackest ink looks blue, observes Mejer Caso. "The ashes, blue," she writes, "The soul, blue." Mejer Caso demonstrates an extraordinary ability to balance obfuscation and clarity to render a mesmerizing, dynamic, layered collection that is both vertiginous and knowable. (Nov.)