Ladies Lazarus: Essays

Piper J. Daniels. Tarpaulin Sky, $16 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-939460-13-4
In this beautifully written collection of 11 lyric essays, debut author Daniels challenges popular narratives about suicidal ideation, sexual assault, mental illness, and female bodies. Told mostly in vignettes, the book merges disparate themes so that one informs the other. Daniels accomplishes this thematic blending especially well when considering occult worship and rape in “Asking for It,” puberty and purity in “Holy Sacrament,” and dolls and dieting in “The Return of Hunger.” She is less effective linking a shuttered Soviet nuclear town with her mother’s addiction in the title essay, and migratory birds, supernatural phenomena, and her sister’s abusive relationship in “Phantom Fares.” Many of the essays converse with other authors and primary texts—including suicide notes in the insightful “Sirens” and taped murder confessions in the chilling “The Twist.” In “The Sylvia Plath Effect,” Daniels forcefully confronts lingering questions on the role of depression—and gender—in Plath’s literary legacy. Despite the dark content, Daniels astutely focuses on the ways women “resurrect” themselves from social, physical, and mental obstructions, as she emerges as an empowering and noteworthy voice. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/12/2018
Release date: 00/00/0000
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