Leslie's Reviews > Jane: A Murder

Jane by Maggie Nelson
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's review
Feb 15, 10

bookshelves: memoir, required-reading, read-in-2010, you-re-my-obsession
Read from February 12 to 15, 2010

Conceptually this book is very intriguing. Written in verse, it is an investigation of/inquiry into the murder of the author’s aunt. Like Maggie Nelson, I have a murder in my family’s past that has always fascinated me. I never knew her. Like Jane, she died in the full bloom of youth. Nelson quotes Poe who says: “the death […:] of a beautiful woman is, unquestioningly, the most poetical topic in the world.” This skeeves me out to a degree, but it certainly holds true.

I am interested in the research, the documentation of that research, the candidness about process. Nelson invites the reader to connect the dots beside her. I like the inclusion of snippets from Jane’s real life journals. They appear out of sequence and alongside writing in the present day; I frequently re-situated myself in time while reading. I admire the chilling moments: descriptions of photographs, the precise arrangement of slain bodies and artifacts, the scandal surrounding these murders as retaliation for menstrual blood. A death in which the only witness is the murderer is quite a chilling thing.

I am torn about the lineation. It does impose a more rhythmic reading—a wraith-like holiness on otherwise prose-like lines. The writing style does not hold much verve for me.

I wonder: is this what the kids are calling a new confessionalism?
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message 1: by Printable Tire (new)

Printable Tire I think I remember reading a review of this in the new york times book review.

Leslie You must have read this review THREE YEARS AGO (<-- geez, you have a good memory): http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/boo.... I didn't realize that she wrote a second book about this. Now I have to decide if my interest is sufficiently piqued by the first book to read the second.

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