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The Red Parts

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  5,427 ratings  ·  504 reviews
One day in March 1969, twenty-three- year-old Jane Mixer was on her way home to tell her parents she was getting married. She had arranged for a ride through the campus bulletin board at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was one of a handful of pioneering women students at the law school. Her body was found the following morning just inside the gates of a ...more
Hardcover, 201 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Free Press
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Rowen Light-Wills I know you've probably found your answer in the last 7 months, but I'd definitely recommend reading "Jane" first! It introduces you to the story in an…moreI know you've probably found your answer in the last 7 months, but I'd definitely recommend reading "Jane" first! It introduces you to the story in an intimate, poetic way, while "The Red Parts" finishes it with the author's reflection through prose.(less)

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Adam Dalva
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A more direct Nelson than I'm used to, as she uses her characteristic analytic prose to discuss the trial of her aunt's murderer, the dissolution of a treasured relationship, and the death of her father. Much is fascinating here (though Nelson doesn't NEED an interesting subject to write interestingly, and in some ways I like her best when she makes small details sing). The court-case, shown in graphic, disturbing detail, takes place in 2005, but her aunt was murdered in 1969. Nelson is so ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
Maggie Nelsons The Argonauts was one of the first non fictions books I read when I decided to vary my reading a few years back. I adored it Maggie Nelsons particular brand of intellectual maybe even academic memoir writing resonates with me. As such it is a bit of shame that it took me so long to read another of her books. But now that I read this, I will for sure read all her other books as well.

A few months before Maggie Nelson published her book of poetry, Jane, which focusses on her late
David Schaafsma
Maggie Nelson was born 4 years after her Aunt Jane Mixer, a University of Michigan law student, was murdered, in 1969, at the age of 23. Janes death was presumed to be one of The Michigan Murders, a series of women killed in the Ann Arbor area for which John Collins was found or assumed guilty. Janes file was finally abandoned, the family thought, as a cold case.

In 2005 Nelson completed a book of poetry, Jane: A Murder, mixed with some of her aunts diary excerpts. When the book tour was being
Julie Ehlers
Maggie Nelsons The Argonauts was one of my favorite reads of 2016 (and possibly of all time), so when I learned that Graywolf Press was rereleasing her earlier memoir, The Red Parts, I was ecstatic and snapped it up as soon as possible. It did not disappoint. The Red Parts has an interesting framework: Maggie Nelson was just getting ready to release a book-length poem about her aunt Jane, whod been the victim of an unsolved murder as a young woman decades prior, when she learned that Janes case ...more
4.25/5. A harrowing account of the trial against the suspected murderer of Maggie Nelsons aunt who was killed in 1969, whose murder remained unsolved for decades and whose case was re-opened in 2005 due to new DNA evidence. It poses interesting questions about our societys obsession with the deaths of (young/white/middle class) women and also works as an intimate look into Maggie Nelsons own inner life during the trial. It felt very honest and didnt shy away from anything and since it's a rather ...more
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
It feels a little presumptuous to read a memoir about a brutal, sexualized murder within the author's family, and to come out the other end thinking that they should have done it differently. Perhaps I won't go so far as to actually assert that. What I will say is that I wanted more. Structurally, the narrative could have been tightened up and focused, and the text occasionally made chronological jumps that were not included for stylistic purposes. The tone was often detached, which makes sense ...more
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
Wow. I loved The Argonauts, but this was something else. This is Nelson recounting her aunt's murder trial (her aunt was killed as a young woman, before Nelson was born, and her murderer was brought to trial 36 years later). At every turn, Nelson gently questions everything: the way people publicly and privately think about crime (especially crimes against women); concepts like "recording" and "witnessing" and "justice"; and, most of all, her own motives as the storyteller. One of my favorite ...more
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Maggie Nelson's memoir about the murder of her aunt, Jane is compelling, honest, and beautifully written. Nelson narrates the experience of her family, through the trial of Jane's murderer, 36 years after the crime occurred. The Red Parts is more than just a narrative of this trial though. Nelson intersperses this experience, with slices of everyday life, in doing so, effectively showing what it means to grow up in the shadow of such a tragedy; the extensive ripples of violent crime. Although an ...more
Kasey Jueds
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
It is always thrilling--and rare--to find a new author to fall in love with, and to discover that she or he has lots of books, and you're just at the beginning of the happy process of spending time with them. It's true I'm looking forward to reading books 2 and 3 in the Hunger Games series, but, fun as those are, it's nothing compared to how excited--really, joyful--I feel to have discovered Maggie Nelson's work. It's odd to feel joyful about a memoir that deals with the brutal murder of the ...more
Maggie Nelsons aunt was murdered in Michigan in 1969. Thirty-five years later, just as Nelson had completed writing a poetry collection about her, the case was reopened when new DNA evidence emerged. Most authors would quickly zero in on the trial itself, giving a blow-by-blow of the lawyers questioning and witnesses statements. Although Nelson does document important developments in the month-long trial, and describes autopsy photographs in blunt detail, her account is much more diffuse than ...more
Viv JM
Maggie Nelson's writing is absolutely wonderful. She has such a poetic and lyrical voice and this book is so honest and thoughtful. Highly recommended.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, july-2016
I was supposed to be reading established poet and non-fiction author Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts for a book club I'm a member of, but unable as I was to find a copy, I plumped for The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial instead. This piece of extended non-fiction, which deals with the aftermath of her aunt's unsolved murder in the late sixties, and new evidence pointing to her killer, was first published in 2007. Of all of Nelson's books, this was the one which appealed to me the most.

Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maggie Nelson is one of my favorite writers. A poet and poetic memoirist, she has an interesting slant on everything she writes. Her mind is fascinating and her control of language amazing.

The Red Parts is one of her more straightforward works. It is a memoir of the trial of the man accused of murdering Nelson's aunt, a crime committed before Nelson was born but whose repercussions affected her life.

The book recounts the events of the trial but also Nelson's musing on the "murder mind" of all
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I've suspected--no, known--for years that I needed to read this book, that it would unlock certain mysteries about memoir for me. And it has--though I'm hard-pressed to say why. I think Nelson is really good at positioning her subject in a way that it doesn't matter if the book is frequently about other things. While The Red Parts is ostensibly "about" the murder trial of her long-dead aunt Jane after DNA evidence implicates a killer nearly 40 years after the fact, a previously unsolved murder ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orgasmic
So glad I finally read some Maggie Nelson. Obviously this was greatness, but the way she ties in our cultural obsession with the death of young white girls, the cinematic tropes, the eroticism of slasher movies, our fascination with serial killers and the way we're told what to feel about it all, makes this not just a beautifully precise examination of her own personal experience with her aunt's murder but holds up that mirror to all of us.
Shana Yates
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I finished this book and am conflicted in how I feel about it. The writing itself is evocative and interesting, but sometimes feels overwrought. The subject matter (a sort of wandering exploration of how a murder impacts a family, the course of a trial, how certain events intersected with the author's life at the time) is obviously serious and compelling. Nelson's maternal aunt was murdered in the late 1960s (before Nelson was born), and her murder was thought to be committed by a serial killer. ...more
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 7/10
I'm the outlier on this one - really a 2.5. I did not read her earlier book the Argonauts which people loved - perhaps that would have changed my mind on this one. This book is all about how to take a lurid true crime tale and turn it into a self-absorbed boring memoir. I understand the perspective and writing choice - to make this more of a commentary on media, crime, feminism, memoir - I just did not find it very compelling. I also found the writer to be annoying - petulant - self-centered to ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It feels kind of off to say I "enjoyed" this memoir/true crime book about the murder of Maggie Nelson's aunt, Jane, but this was an incredibly well written and moving book.

In The Red Parts Nelson recounts the murder, but also the shock trial of the prime suspect in her aunt's murder - which took place soon after her initial book on the murder, Jane: A Murder, was published. This isn't really your "typical" true crime book as Nelson also contemplates the nature of the genre, after being asked to
Cynthia Sillitoe
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a weird book. I bought it because I saw a 48 Hours Mystery piece about a writer who, while writing about an aunt's murder, finds out the murder is close to being solved. (It goes to trial, though even I, who usually side with the prosecution, think it's a shaky case.) Anyway, I thought this would be a book about a family seeking justice and answers. In a way, I think it's much more about how trauma affects generations of a family. Reading it triggered my frequent mantra-- Why don't more ...more
Elli (The Bibliophile)
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a beautiful book. This book is emotional without veering into sentimentality, beautifully written but not overwritten, full of questions and observations and dilemmas. Nelson writes in a way that is very self-aware and questioning. I loved every second of this book and I enjoyed it even more than The Argonauts, which I also highly recommend. I think Maggie Nelson might be one of my favourite living writers.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, women, non-fiction
"she dreams of a body that cannot be injured, violated, or sickened unless it chooses to be," saw a lot of myself and my obsessions inside this little book.
Sian Lile-Pastore
I am a huge Maggie Nelson fan.
This book has great writing, and still has that going off on tangents thing that Maggie does so well, and that way about telling you about one thing - the reopened case of her aunts murder almost 40 years after it happened- but also telling you about relationships, family, writing and loads more.
This book is really gripping too as we wait to hear if the guy they arrested all those years later actually did it (and even if he is convicted, did he really do it
Debbie Notkin
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Maggie Nelson's Aunt Jane was murdered before Nelson was born, and inevitably Jane's death reverberated throughout Nelson's family. As an adult writer, Nelson set out to study Jane's death and produce a book of poems which would help her put the story to rest ... but just as she was finishing the poetry book (Jane: A Murder), the police called Nelson's mother to say they thought they had identified the murderer (more than 20 years later). This book is about the ensuing trial and conviction of ...more
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-bio
a powerful bookpart memoir, part reportage, and part essayistic inquiryabout the unsolved murder of her aunt three and a half decades previous, maggie nelson's the red parts confronts the legacy of this vicious crime, while reflecting on family, violence, sorrow, and her own reasoning for telling the story (see also nelson's jane: a murder). chronicling the renewed investigation and the trial of the presumed murderer, nelson also muses upon our culture's disproportionate interest in the tragic ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I (foolishly) resisted reading this for years despite having read *everything* else of Maggie's. Anything true-crime-y is generally off-putting to me, for no other reason than I'm surprisingly squeamish and feel vaguely like I'm violating privacy when reading it. It was a mistake to take this long to read THE RED PARTS, which eschews the conventions I'd assumed it would be operating under and instead offers an honest, lyric, stunningly clear-eyed look into the meaning of justice, the knotty and ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I know what I want is impossible. If I can make my language flat enough, exact enough, if I can rinse each sentence clean enough, like washing a stone over and over again in river water, if I can find the right perch or crevice from which to record everything, if I can give myself enough white space, maybe I could do it. I could tell you this story while walking out of this story. I couldit all couldjust disappear.

Harrowing, beautifully written account of personal and familial trauma. Approached
E. V.  Gross
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
thoroughly and completely engrossing til the last page. nelson grapples with questions of memory, of ethics, what informs our own darkness and desires, the shape and color(s) of grief, and on and on. i want to describe this book as "haunting" not just because it is about death but because it is about the intangible and the confounding.
Callum McAllister
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maggie Nelson is a very elegant and cathartic writer. Also a total legend.
Jamie Canaves
Excellent True Crime MemoirI Inhaled The Audiobook In One Sitting!
This one is hard to describe because as much as its a memoir and true crime Nelson has the ability to meditate on humanity and societyand so many thingsthat I felt myself often catching my breath after sentences. If you dont already know, Maggie Nelson has a collection of published work including poetry, essays, and autobiography. She also grew up the niece of Jane Mixer, whose 1969 murder had remained unsolved until 2004. This is
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Maggie Nelson is the author of nine books of poetry and prose, many of which have become cult classics defying categorization. Her nonfiction titles include the National Book Critics Circle Award winner and New York Times bestseller The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015), The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (Norton, 2011; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Bluets (Wave Books, 2009; named by ...more

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“Of course my ex didn’t walk me home. Instead I wandered, drunk, from Main Street down to the railroad tracks, lay down there and listened to the quiet world. Smoked a cigarette on my back, feeling a part of the ground, one of night’s dark and lost creatures.
For as long as I can remember, this has been one of my favorite feelings. To be alone in public, wandering at night, or lying close to the earth, anonymous, invisible, floating. To be “a man of the crowd,” or, conversely, alone with Nature or your God. To make your claim on public space even as you feel yourself disappearing into its largesse, into sublimity. To practice for death by feeling completely empty, but somehow still alive.
It’s a sensation that people have tried, in various times and places, to keep women from feeling.”
“Am I sitting here now, months later, in Los Angeles, writing all this down, because I want my life to matter? Maybe so. But I don't want it to matter more than others.

I want to remember, or to learn, how to live as if it matters, as if they all matter, even if they don't.”
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