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“time repeats you"
Trace Evidence by Charif Shanahan is 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches & 112 pages long.
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Now— as we all know and love about me— I am quite wobbly on matters of “the plot”. Do I follow it? Maybe. Do I care? Barely maybe. What I value in a book—character, atmosphere, insight, jokes, (pathos,) a sense of place!, explorations of a mood, a sense of play (transcendence!)—emerges whether or not “things” “happen.” And many of the books I’m drawn to, like poetry or essay collections or dinner party novels, often indicate at the outset that I don’t have to worry about plot.
But as it “happens,” Charif Shanahan’s Trace Evidence is a poetry collection where things happen. Trace Evidence hinges on an accident: during his journey to visit his mother’s home country of Morocco, a bus crash breaks Shanahan’s neck. He survives, incredibly. He takes the crash as: a warning, a proof of fate, an occurrence of total randomness, a divine act. The injury and the convalescence both shatter, reconstitute:
Trace Evidence has ferocious insight, excruciating wisdom— about the passage of time, about mixed-race experience, about injury and convalescence. It’s also just an incredible story. In a book filled with everything else I care about, I certainly didn’t mind a little bit of plot.
P.S. I forgot that “interstitial” is one of the words that I actively refuse to look up! If you also don’t know what it means email back :)