Synopses & Reviews
Constantly surprising, these personal essays explore the attractions and dangers of intimacy and the violence that often arises in close relationships. Deulen’s artful storytelling and dialogue also draw the reader into complicated questions about class, race, and gender.
In “Aperture,” she considers how she has contributed to her autistic brother’s isolation from family and from the world. “Theft” investigates her mother’s romantic stories about conquistadors in the context of the Mexican heritage of her biracial family. Throughout the collection Deulen experiments formally, alternating traditional narrative with “still life” essays and collages that characterize a particular time, place, and sensibility.
Deulen is remarkable in her ability to present her own confusion and culpability, and she also writes with compassion for others, such as her own suicidal and unpredictable father or a boy in her class who sets the teacher’s hair on fire. In part because she herself so poorly fits the identities she might be assigned—white in appearance, she is in fact half Latina; raised in a poor neighborhood, she has acquired an education associated with the middle class—Deulen sees “otherness” as a useless category and the enemy of intimacy, which she embraces despite its risks.
The Riots seeks to create what Frost called “a momentary stay against confusion,” and Deulen investigates her own act of creation even as she uses the craft of writing to put parentheses around the chaos of continuous living.
"Fierce, tender, explosively honest, Danielle Cadena Deulen's radiant debut sings like a prose poem and lingers like a fever dream. In the liminal world of The Riots, the face of a dead girl under the bridge worries a hole in your mind though you never see her, mercy shatters trust, and a boy's stuttering confession of love exposes his sister's crimes against him. Through the grace and devastation of shared memory, Deulen dares to know the dispossessed, to re-invent her father's life and try to save him as a child. She remembers what cannot be, transfiguring herself through the passion of desire." Melanie Rae Thon, author of In This Light
"There are moments of transcendent prose in this manuscript that elevate it far beyond what we might expect of it at first blush. It manages to become more profound, and more beautiful, the more desperate and tragic its trajectory. Finally, it is a triumph of wisdom and great art." Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North
About the Author
Danielle Cadena Deulen is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Utah. Her essays are forthcoming in The Iowa Review and American Literary Review. Her poetry collection Lovely Asunder received the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize and will be published in spring 2011 by the University of Arkansas Press.
Table of Contents
Still Life with Flashing Lights
Soliloquies with Strangers
Still Life with Oaks
Still Life with Sparrow
After the Flood
Still Life with Summer Wasps
Still Life with Doldrums
Still Life with Unfinished House
A Momentary Stay Against Confusion