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The Pink Institution

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  395 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Interweaving visceral, atmospheric prose with historical photographs, images and texts, The Pink Institution traces four generations of Mississippi women from their run-down, post-Civil War plantations to the modern-day trailer parks that house the youngest generations. As the impoverished decay of the Deep South expresses itself through their bloodlines, a new impression ...more
Paperback, 140 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Coffee House Press (first published 2004)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  395 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I want to read this forever.
Stephanie Hempel
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
God I read this in one sitting like I was gasping for air, I loved it so much that my stomach aches.
Meg Tuite
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know how I let this sit on my desk for a few months. Yes, I am overwhelmed with a hunger for books, buying bookshelves to clear out the endless stacks that surround me.
I heard about Saterstrom from GoodReads. That review had me buying it immediately. I have a problem in this arena of jumping in and ordering, but have to say I am rarely steered in the wrong direction.
I wasn’t roped in from the start when I got a copy and opened it. After picking it up a few more times and moving further
i loved this - crossgenre southern gothic novel/memoirish/poetry/prose/everything. the form shifts as time advances. fascinating and beautifully done. creepy and horrifying often, and emotionally blank in parts. there is an extended section on a Transformers pencil eraser that is terrific. i'd quote it but i'm in bed and don't want to move to get the book even though it's on the ground right next to me. excited to read Saterstrom's other book The Meat and Spirit Plan.
Margaret Wappler
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I just really, really loved this book. I'm a sucker for fucked up Southern familes for one, but also, Selah S. just writes the most beautiful, cracked and violent poetry-prose. Recommended for those who like Anne Carson but with a side of bloody mary and a smack in the jaw from your Uncle Beau.
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This incredible book was given to me by an incredible man. It was an experience that was at the same time cleansing and poisoning. I can't recommend this book enough
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Short and intense. The way it was structured, was confusing at times though.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-south
I have no idea what I just read.
Amy Ellis
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit, this book was good.

I read it a few years back and I think I enjoyed it even more on a second read.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Um, I don’t even know what this. To call it a novel seems like more than a stretch. If it weren’t short enough to read in 1 day, I would not have finished it.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I would give this more like 3.5 stars. I want to explain why... this is my first review! There were passages that moved me so, the language.. just stunning. Poetry interwoven with prose. I think any woman should read this book about generations of women growing up in the South during a trying time in American history. It gives a unique spin on the travesties of post Civil war America, the patriarchal world in which women are often imprisoned. The book’s strength is also where it lacks at times.. ...more
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Impressions of Horror

Saterstrom, Selah (2004). The Pink Institution. St. Paul, MN: Coffee House Press.

This experimental novel is a story of four generations of Mississippi females, stretching from around 1940 to the early 2000’s, although “story” is too strong a term for what is presented, a set of impressions, poems, quotations and old photographs that imply lives of ignorance, filth, decay, brutality, alcohol, sickness and death. The girls are born into poverty, live in rot, are uneducated, ab
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recently-read
It's been a while since I read this book, but since I'm currently reading Saterstrom's latest offering - The Meat and Spirit Plan - I wanted to give The Pink Institution a big thumbs-up. This book was a surprising find when I first read it and all the pieces I've read from Saterstrom since then (particularly in Sleeping Fish) have maintained the same high level of originality. Well worth your time.
Oct 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
This short novel felt far too contrived, deliberate, and strange, to the point where there was no way I could identify with any of the characters, and I have no doubt in my mind that that's precisely what Saterstrom was trying to do. While I appreciated her brazen layout decisions, emphasizing the importance of the way the text is organized, including small pictures and odd graphics, it didn't work for me.

Dec 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
If you like highly fragmented lyric fiction, check this out. If you don't, stay away. I love the Southernness of this story, the way Saterstrom tracks the generations through the females, the constant pulling together and breaking apart. Innovative.
Kristen Ringman
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
I loved the end parts of this book which were in first person narrative, but most of the beginning and middle in third person were just too jumbled for me to care about the characters at all...interesting cross-genre text, though...
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
A visceral blend of poetry and prose, 1st and 3rd person, that loosely follows four generations of women's lives in the brutal, poverty-stricken post-Civil War South to the present day. Stark, beautiful, disturbing, and unique...
Kae Cheatham
May 13, 2011 rated it liked it
(experimental) Novella

A composite of poetic prose and first person renderings that show a family's history and present. Sort of a shorthand Faulkner look at southern families and lineage. It was often troublesome both in subject and style, but a compelling read.
Lisa J.K.
Jul 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
An amazing example of how a writer can provoke so much emotion and thought with so few words! The text is intimidating at first, but just dive in and experience it!
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2005reads
Poetic, sort of autobiography. Interesting
Oct 23, 2007 rated it did not like it
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Inventive. Disturbed & disturbing. Can't wait to read her next book, The Meat and Spirit Plan. A truly exciting new writer. ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
This, Selah Saterstrom's first book, plays on some of my greatest fears, yet it is masterfully written, innovative, disruptive and new.
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, poetry
The Pink Institution is an fascinating hybrid text, both experimental and highly readable. She has a gift for pungent, matter-of-fact narration with austere yet vivid detail.
Aug 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern
Short, brutal, affecting.

Combination of poetry and prose - language is fierce and lyrical.
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fictitious
an excellent and bizarre mix of Faulkner,Allison,and surreal poetry.
an abstract portrait of a family through minutia and child-like epiphanies.
Frankie Rollins
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Vitally important in form as well as content. All about innocence and humanity (and how it gets yanked sometimes, and how it doesn't other times.)
Mar 10, 2010 added it
The Pink Institution is a family saga in which trauma/brutality is at a distance. We view pain through a fogged window. The writing is spare, chilling and heartbreaking.
T Powers
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Interesting, I can't say anymore.......
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Love the way this is structured.
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Selah Saterstrom is the author of the novels Slab, The Meat and Spirit Plan, and The Pink Institution, all published by Coffee House Press. In 2016 Essay Press will publish a collection of her essays on Divinatory Poetics. She is the Director of Creative Writing at the University of Denver.

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