Nicola's Reviews > 100 Notes on Violence

100 Notes on Violence by Julie Carr
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Jul 05, 2011

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Read in July, 2011

Perhaps, I was too excited about this book. I heard Carr read in Tucson, and found these notes mesmerizing, like I was overhearing an uncanny frequency. And the cover is dynamite. I had to turn this book facedown so the drowned child wouldn't stare at me. But the notes themselves didn't accumulate for me.

It's as though Carr has shattered a mirror and then sought to pick up the fragmented pieces and re-construct the mirror in new, strange ways. This impossible endeavor suits its impossible subject: to understand violence, especially its commonality.

But do these lyric fragments take enough shape? On a language level, I would say yes. The language was imbued with trauma, with words like wounds and with phrases truncated--as though the speaker were stopped mid-breath--and surrounded by a shocked, boundless, white space. But does the project succeed on a content level, ultimately? I'm not entirely sure. I wanted more fleshed-out meditation. My favorite pieces were the bulkiest. I also found the more concrete pieces--for example, the one with the student in her office who has burns on his hands--the most memorable and thought-provoking.

Compared to C.D. Wright's "One Big Self," for example, this book feels undeveloped and, for this reader, unsuccessful.
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