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Chanté Reid. Sarabande, $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-95604-611-3

Reid mixes memoir, poetry, and close reading in her innovative debut. She opens with a startling account of her neighbor’s murder at the hands of police, which takes place as she drafts a college paper on Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. Reid moves through scenes of violence, love, and longing, most of which are narrated in verse or dialogue between her and various figures. Along the way, Reid weaves in stories from Greek mythology (“We were talking about Narcissus because she was calling me narcissistic and so I wanted to like respond and explain the math of that”), commentary on American politics (“Americans don’t know anything outside of America”), and reflections on how Morrison’s work has informed her life (“Beloved has shown me, I’m not an/ argument/ conclusion-type; however, I still check my body/ mother/ neighborhood for bullet wounds”). Photos of Reid’s personal copy of Morrison’s novel punctuate the book-length essay. Both poetic and blunt, Reid covers the stark contrast as well as the connections between her life as a reader and student of literature, and the harsh realities of American life—it makes for an illuminating record of a mind fascinated by literature in a world of violence. This original essay marks Reid as a writer to watch. (Oct.)