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Body Geographic (American Lives)by Barrie Jean Borich
Synopses & Reviews
A memoir from the award-winning author of My Lesbian Husband, Barrie Jean Borichand#8217;s Body Geographic turns personal history into an inspired reflection on the points where place and person intersect, where running away meets running toward, and whereand#160;dislocation means finding oneself.and#160;
One coordinate of Borichand#8217;s story is Chicago, the prototypical Great Lakes port city built by immigrants like her great-grandfather Big Petar, and the other is her own port of immigration, Minneapolis, the combined skylines of these two cities tattooed on Borichand#8217;s own back. Between Chicago and Minneapolis Borich maps her own Midwest, a true heartland in which she measures the distance between the dreams and realities of her own life, her familyand#8217;s, and her fellow travelersand#8217; in the endless American migration. Covering rough terrainand#8212;from the hardships of her immigrant ancestors to the travails of her often-drunk young self, longing to be madly awake in the world, from the changing demographics of midwestern cities to the personal transformations of coming out and living as a lesbianand#8212;Body Geographic is cartography of high literary order, plotting routes, real and imagined, and putting an alternate landscape on the map.
"From the first evocative, disturbing scene of receiving an unexpectedly painful lower-back tattoo of a 'dual city skyline' of her childhood home Chicago and her adopted home Minneapolis, Borich (My Lesbian Husband) enlists the reader in a gritty, poetic tour of her personal geography. Layers of memory, history, and conjecture create a palimpsest of cultural and family lore and personal recollection, accompanied by a collection of maps and images, both physical and metaphysical, that track human imagination across time and boundaries — the 1668 map of Bohemia as a rose by Christopher Vetter; the 'big blond body of Miss Manifest Destiny' floating over westward-bound settlers in John Gast's 1872 painting American Progress; the 'city in the middle of Linnea's brain' — an x-ray of the tumor in Borich's lesbian husband's frontal lobe. The book itself is chaptered as a series of 'maps' and 'insets' navigating Borich through the 'memory and dissonance' of her Croatian immigrant family of mine and mill workers, her own northward migration, the politics and experience of gender ambiguity, and the spirit of place. 'Words are maps,' she writes, 'and maps say more about where we think we've been than where we actually reside.' 25 illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Barrie Jean Borich teaches creative writing in the English Department and the MA in Writing and Publishing program at Chicagoand#8217;s DePaul University and splits her time between Minneapolis and Chicago.
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