Part internal dialogue on the essence of language, part critical essay on everything from Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station to Nancy Milford’s biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, and all framed by a single road trip, Dream of the Trenches somehow meshes that all together into what feels like a remake of William Carlos Williams’s "Spring and All" for the 21st century. In place of Williams’s strident manifesto, Colby gives us a charmingly obsessive, self-conscious deconstruction, an intellectual fun house of recurring and recursing ideas, a post-Postmodernist treatise on the idea of its own existence. But don’t worry — though you may give your brain a few extra wrinkles trying to understand it, Colby’s wit and whimsy ensure you’ll at least enjoy the experience. Recommended By Jordan M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Part autofiction, part sequential critical engagement, the eponymous essay in Dream of the Trenches investigates and builds upon narrative recursion, self-reflexivity and subjective treatments of time in modern and contemporary writing. Winding through the work of Ben Lerner, it also addresses Ashbery, Woolf, Stein, Lessing, Mathews, Knausgaard and others. An accompanying sequence of 20 micro-essays — each of exactly 150 words — explores the possibilities of formal constraint with torqued language ranging across topics from beauty to popular music to the senescence of lobsters.
"[A]...fierceness drives (almost literally) Colby’s unrelenting intelligence in Dream of the Trenches. As she tracks memory’s workings, the writing races forward and backward at once. And the language starts taking itself apart." Mónica de la Torre
"I want to say this is a meaty book, but it’s really a fleshy book, concerned with the tender membrane between a body and time, an involuntary record reflected in 'language’s rim'... Dream of the Trenches is generous, dangerous, exquisitely written and quietly charismatic: it will leave you thrilled, unsettled, and alive." Anna Moschovakis
"Dream of the Trenches generates and implodes self through collision with the self-portraits others—cancelling and revising, redrafting, new noms de plume, new noms de guerre — a self-machine which is also a meditation on the durational aspect of auto-portrait, and on the precarity of living as oneself on a gantry of slow structures, moveable as type, which threaten to collapse even as they launch our next avatar." Joanna Howard
About the Author
Kate Colby is author of seven books of poetry, most recently The Arrangements (Four Way Books, 2018). She has received awards and fellowships from the Poetry Society of America, Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, and the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University. She was a founding board member of the Gloucester Writers Center in Massachusetts, where she now serves on the advisory board. Born and raised in Boston, she currently lives in Providence.