The Red Parts
Late in 2004, Maggie Nelson was looking forward to the publication of her book Jane: A Murder, a narrative in verse about the life and death of her aunt, who had been murdered thirty-five years before. The case remained unsolved, but Jane was assumed to have been the victim of an infamous serial killer in Michigan in 1969. Then, one November afternoon, Nelson received a call from her mother who announced that the case had been reopened: a new suspect would be arrested and tried on the basis of a DNA match. Over the months that followed, Nelson found herself attending the trial with her mother and reflecting anew on the dread and fear that hung over her family and childhood. This feeling derived not only from the terrible facts of her aunt's murder but also from her own complicated journey through sisterhood, daughterhood and girlhood. The Red Parts is a memoir, an account of a trial, and a provocative essay that interrogates America's obsession with violence, particularly against women, and that scrupulously explores the nature of grief, justice and empathy, never before published in the UK.
"Devastating" -- Hilton Als New Yorker "A book-long riff on the first-person essay that Joan Didion built... Nelson eschews tidy resolution. She argues that stories are by nature imperfect - and yet she also shows us how they can become totally worthwhile" Time Out "In writing The Red Parts, Nelson has made her own box holding the fragments of many things. It's not a beautiful object, but a valuable, coolly shimmering one, which captures the raw bewilderment that can affect a family for generations after a violent loss" San Francisco Chronicle "Nelson's cathartic narrative encompasses closure of unrelated events in her own life, such as mourning her dead father, dealing with a recent heartache and reconciling with her once-wayward sister. Her narrative is wrenching" Publishers Weekly "Nelson is candid, funny and - for many years a poet - has a talent for compression and juxtaposition that makes for an enthralling use of language" -- Paul Laity Guardian