Kat Dixon’s Here/Other (is awesome!)

I’m having a good mail week:

  1. tax refund
  2. Kat Dixon’s new book Here/Other

It’s orange blossom season, which means Santa Cruz smells like ripe citrus and, in a few weeks, it will smell like jasmine and eucalyptus, we won’t be able to drive to the beach anymore, and we will all picnic in our side yards. It’s the kind of season to wander through a narrative that corresponds with the way we want, wait, and continue to want.

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Here/Other is a book where something happens in a new way. This is why I like Dixon: there’s the academic conversation about form/genre, the poetic conversation about hybridity and praxis, the reading conversation about plot and character, and then there’s a sense (this is the important part) that the work happens among us. Dixon is writing about us: the language is approachable, the narrative is compelling, and the dialogue is honest.

I will never speak to you I will never speak to you I will / never speak to you I will never speak to you I will never / speak to you again.

It takes the characters the same “thinking space” it takes us to come to conclusions, to make decisions, and to be active:

[…] He had every intention / of locking doors.

Like us, her characters have so many needs, so many rabbit feet, so many missing gloves. There is a lot of Dickinson-esque nothings and nobodies, a lot of “hush hush there is still / so much to be said,” and mouths that open, but we seem to always end up “Here again” or falling.

This isn’t as quiet as it sounds. Instead, it reminds me of Baudelaire asking about how we experience, how we are unable to talk about our experiences because someone/thing (often, our own language) speaks them for us. There’s a lot at work here with issues of power: who says what and how what is said can be said. Her sensitivity to acts of translation, language, and power reminds me of Paris Spleen: representing is strange, is about admitting to strangeness, and will reveal the way we are always reshaped.

Or, as Dixon says, “rearrganing.”

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