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Moth; Or How I Came to Be with You Againby Thomas Heise
Synopses & Reviews
"A deeply melancholic and moving work of art."—Carole Maso
Every writer is a man or woman resuscitated, brought back for a little while before being dismissed. While I was hovering in bed barely asleep, my father would sneak in to check on me. Sometimes he came in the shape of a stranger, but his black eyes with a mark of sorrow never changed. When I was younger I could run so fast my shadow would fly off me. I would leave it behind in the city where I was born. There was no city, only my mother's arms. Dear grief, hermetic as a goat's skull. The future where you are, but how to get there except waiting another year.
The narrator in Thomas Heise's adventurous novel tries to fuse together his present and past, abandonment by his parents, childhood in an orphanage, and a strong sense of disconnection from his adult life. The story is written in columnar, densely lyrical sections, looping and vertiginously dropping into the speaker's past, across several cities in Europe. W.G. Sebald, Samuel Beckett, and Michelangelo Antonioni's films come to mind, especially L'Avventura and Red Desert. Heise's language is precise (dirigibles "no larger than a fennel seed") and his lush, unfolding sentences offer a great, gorgeous pleasure. Moth is a haunting, one-of-a-kind novel that will stay with the reader for a long, long time.
Thomas Heise is the author of Horror Vacui: Poems and Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture. He teaches at McGill University.
"Neither memoir, poem, nor novel, Moth is somehow all three — an effusive ramble through the space of language and the language of memory. Written during a period of intensely disorienting insomnia, Heise's 'autobiography of fever' recalls the orphanage of the author's childhood, an affair he had with a psychiatrist, and a peripatetic adulthood. The language that attaches to the Heise's remembrance becomes itself disjointed so that whole entries turn into cascades of delirious association; for instance, a strange woman he followed across Prague's Charles Bridge blurs into a German prostitute with scars like 'pale crescents in an alien sky.' The unifying figure in the dream winding through Olso, Berlin, and New York is the mother the narrator never knew, and the unclaimable home that lingers just outside the power of words and recollections. The Heise's dizzy prose can read like Rilke's Malte Laurids Brigge run afoul of LautrÃ©amont's Maldoror — and yet moments of lucid immediacy regularly emerge to devastating effect. Heise seems capable of doing anything with words, and this book is a diagram of life's 'internal chambers' that ventures into bleary territory hitherto thought unspeakable. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A young man probes the mystery of his past, including abandonment by his parents and a childhood in an orphanage.
Thomas Heise's adventurous Moth; or how I came to be with you again is a densely lyrical poetic narrative. The story follows the narrators real and imagined journeys through time and space in search of his unknown mother, in flight from his unknown father, and in pursuit of his lost love. Traveling through his past, and across several cities in Europe in the present, he ruminates on the hypnotic rhythm of train travel, insomnia, desire, the nature of memory, and modern art. Moth recalls W.G. Sebald, Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, and especially Antonioni's films, where viewers experience a mysterious sense of washed-out beauty and trouble. Heise's language is precise and his lush, unfolding sentences offer a great, gorgeous pleasure. Moth is a haunting, one-of-a-kind novel that will stay with the reader for a long, long time.
About the Author
Thomas Heise is the author of Horror Vacui: Poems (Sarabande, 2006) and Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2010). He is an Associate Professor of English at McGill University and divides his time between Montreal and New York City.
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