Review of Elizabeth Ellen’s Person/a, appearing in Riot Material.
“The poet, Robert Lowell, spoke about the best poems, the most personal ones, as being “gathered crumbs from a lost cake.” Elizabeth Ellen, in architecting a novel from “lost crumbs,” has created a searing inner-portrait of the artist as a riddle unto herself. A failed love affair with a younger man has left her sifting through wreckage, or to put it more accurately: has made sifting through wreckage her primary point of existence. Though E.E. is forty years old at the start of the book (there are four different “books,” or volumes, covering different periods of time and different emotional climates, each hinging upon the central axis of “obsession”), her core wounding, and guttural responses, derive from an unscabbed adolescent self. Deep wounds set us back. If you want to time travel, have your heart broken. You will become six again, or nine, or fourteen. This quality, which resonates throughout E.E.’s narrative, infuses the novel with a sort of inverse romanticism, or youthful claim on suffering. This book sings it bones with unrelenting candor, with its illusions worn on its sleeve.”
To read the full review, click here.