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Intimate: An American Family Photo Albumby Paisley Rekdal
Synopses & Reviews
Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. Asian American Studies. Native American Studies. INTIMATE is a hybrid memoir and "photo album" that blends personal essay, historical documentary, and poetry to examine the tense relationship between self, society, and familial legacy in contemporary America. Typographically innovative, INTIMATE creates parallel streams, narrating the stories of Rekdal's Norwegian-American father and his mixed-race marriage, the photographer Edward S. Curtis, and Curtis's murdered Apsaroke guide, Alexander Upshaw. The result is panoramic, a completely original literary encounter with intimacy, identity, family relations, and race.
"Poet and essayist Rekdal (Animal Eye) sets out to explore the slipperiness of identity — and examine the very nature of self and perception — in this ambitious and somewhat jumbled synthesis of biography, memoir, poetry, and photography, which threads together her own life with that of Native American photographer Edward Curtis and his interpreter, Alexander Upshaw. The narrative hangs loosely on Rekdal's relationship with her Chinese mother, who has cancer, and her Norwegian father, a history teacher who says the Sioux 'were hardly victims' and believes that history has 'multiple narratives.' Interspersed throughout are short chapters (some only a single sentence), poems inspired by photos taken by Curtis, epigraphs, and mini-biographies of Curtis and Upshaw, each in different fonts. All of these sections seemingly act as metaphors for and reflections of Rekdal herself, who is deemed 'Other' by the manager at her first job — and, when employed by the University of Wyoming, has a directory photo that makes her look 'like a Hawaiian Air stewardess.' Rekdal's prose is fluid and rhythmic, and the poems are often poignant. In the end, however, the book is as complicated — and messy — as identity itself. Photos. (Apr. 30)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee (Pantheon, 2000; Vintage, 2002), and three books of poetry. Her work has received a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship. Her poems and essays have been featured in The New York Times Magazine, NPR, and Nerve, and in many literary journals. She teaches at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
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