Monday, 14 September 2015
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
'Each time it begins in the same way, it doesn't begin the
same way, each time it begins it's the same.'
Remarkable and sustained fury. I have not read a book that more tangibly captures the othered experience than this. The impact is as a bludgeon knocking you into another shape, yet the writing is as fine and crafted as a blade. Every word of Citizen, every image, beats you round the head saying 'this is my world, this is my world', challenging you to overlook it. There is no ignoring Claudia Rankine's Citizen. This is what literature is and can be.
'Words work as release - well-oiled doors opening and
closing between intention, gesture. A pulse in a neck, the
shiftiness of the hands, an unconscious blink, the conver-
sations you have with your eyes translate everything and
nothing. What will be needed, what goes unfelt, unsaid -
what has been duplicated, redacted here, redacted there,
altered to hide or disguise - words encoding the bodies
they cover. And despite everything the body remains.
Occasionally it is interesting to think about he outburst if
you would just cry out-
To know what you'll sound like is worth noting-'