cover image When the Sick Rule the World

When the Sick Rule the World

Dodie Bellamy. Semiotext(e), $17.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-58435-168-9

Experimental writer Bellamy (The TV Sutras) blends confessional essay, short story, and memoir in this so-so collection. The stories and essays, set mostly in San Francisco, variously track Bellamy’s life as a creative writing professor, involvement with writing groups (“The Feminist Writers’ Guild”), struggles with chronic pain (“When the Sick Rule the World”), the lingering death of Bellamy’s mother (“Phone Home”), and interactions with and influence by experimental feminist writers such as Eileen Miles and Kathy Acker (as explored, respectively, in “Barf Manifesto” and “Digging Through Kathy Acker’s Stuff”). Some of the more memoiristic essays shine, including “Whistle While You Dixie,” “Phone Home,” and “In the Shadows of Twitter Towers,” but other pieces fall somewhat flat, subsiding into undistinguished prose (“It’s like I’ve had a vision, and I see clearly: all art is political”) or rambling on unnecessarily, as in the overextended “The Beating of Our Hearts.” This collection is an interesting experiment in hybrid prose that doesn’t quite add up to something greater than its individual parts. [em](Oct.) [/em]