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The Second Elizabeth

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  11 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Fiction. The story begins when Elizabeth encounters Beth, her new neighbor and coworker, whose resilience and originality awaken a memory of a younger self. THE SECOND ELIZABETH is a densely poetic meditation on love and language, Virginia and virginity, loss and longing, trauma and recovery. In lush, obsessive text the novel reveals the bonds of female experience, the ...more
Paperback, 187 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by Six Gallery Press
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Nate D
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
Name as identity, history, incantation. First part, "July" dwells almost exlcusively in this space of present self-reflection blurred into memory. It becomes rather tedious, I'm afraid. Words can become their own ends, and seem to be attempting that here, but the limited subject and palette starts to feel claustrophobic. In part two, "August" the book really takes off, as Lillis begins to build her words upon words into a kind of cosmology of the self seeking connection over great distances. I ...more
review of
Karen Lillis' The Second Elizabeth
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - November 16, 2011

The author of this is a friend of mine. She lives in the same neighborhood I do. I'm very glad she does. She's someone I like very much. I'd heard her read about working in a bkstore but was otherwise unfamiliar w/ her writing. I'd heard that The Second Elizabeth was "like Gertrude Stein" from a mutual friend. That cd mean: 'it experiments w/ repetition' &/or I might very well hate it as I did
GUD Magazine
The Second Elizabeth is probably best described as a novella-length prose poem. It's a meditation on what it means to be who one is, and how one finds that out, and how one's identity is channeled through one's name(s). Its author obviously has the sensibilities of a poet, though not exactly the sensibilities of a storyteller; the strengths of the book are more in the atmosphere, imagery, and concept-play than in the characters and plot.

Insofar as it is a story, it's a story about Karen
Mar 04, 2009 added it
Shelves: reviewed-for-gud
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen Michalski
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Karen Lillis' The Second Elizabeth is a song of self. It's also a song of unself. In this short but lovely book of identity, Lillis breaks down language and her (fictionlized) self, piece by piece, and reassembles them in a poignant personal and literary rebirth.

This de/reconstruction takes place in the course of two months, July and August, or the first and second halves of the book. We discover early on that Lillis is living in Virginia with her brother, trying to start her life over, and has
Jason Jordan
Feb 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Michael S. Begnal got it right on the back of Lillis's book: "The Second Elizabeth reads in a way like an extended prose-poem." Lillis spends much of her time meditating on names, places, and family members. She also incorporates many intentionally repetitive, trance-inducing passages. While there's a main narrative, I wanted more of it. In addition, I wanted more characters and more dialogue. However, The Second Elizabeth is a fascinating read from start to finish, though stylistically it's not ...more
Scott Smith
Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is about as close to poetry as you can get and still be called fiction. I love Lillis's lyrical prose, written in often cyclic sentences that remind me of a Philip Glass piece as much as any book I've read. Reminiscent of the metafiction of the '70s, this book experiments widely with style, yet it invariably retains enough porosity for real emotions to seep to the surface. Lillis has a keen observational eye for details that both define and expand her characters. A quick read, and a ...more
herocious herocious
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book kicks off with her middle name and ends with her middle name, Elizabeth. Elizabeth. In the end THE SECOND ELIZABETH stays true to its pattern and touches the tonic, brings the reader back to the beginning, back to safety, to remember how far we’ve traveled, and for that I’m thankful.

For my full review book over to
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Karen Lillis is the author of four short novels, most recently, Watch the Doors as They Close (Spuyten Duyvil Novella Series). The Nervous Breakdown raved about the book: "One of the finest pieces of independent literature of 2012, Lillis has broken the mold of the classic New York City love story." With sharp insight and black humor, Lillis’ fiction and narrative nonfiction tell vivid tales of