Jane: A Murder is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.
It's a multi-genre text that works through the murder of the narrator's aunt. The author includes poems, newspaper clippings, journal entries and letters to tell, process, and piece together Jane's story. I thoroughly enjoy multi-genre texts because they accurately replicate "real life." We don't just get our info from one source, right? We usually read the local paper, watch CNN, read the national paper, read online news forums as well as listen to eye witness accounts or second-hand info. Multi-genre texts work in the same way. They use various forms of media to piece together a story--in this case the story of Jane who was the third victim in a series of brutal rape-murders near U of M in the 1960s.
Though I didn't find the poems all that skillfully crafted, I did think they worked well at telling the narrative and they were VERY accessible to all readers. The poems in the last two sections did become more engaging in their craft, but not enough so to completely win me over (I'm a hard critic). I plan to read the Maggie Nelson's poetry to get a stronger sense of her poetic style. I think it would be wrong of me to judge her poems based on the ones in Jane. The poems in this book mostly serve the function of furthering along the story in a new and interesting way.
Which makes me wonder, should poems in multi-genre texts with a clear narrative be so straight-forward? I've been working on my own multi-genre project that includes poems, reports, essays, letters, and notes and I wonder if I tamed my poems down more if the text would be more accessible. Probably so...
I really enjoyed reading Jane. It was powerful, engaging, and very intriguing. It made me think quite a bit about my own multi-genre projects as well as how to write about tragedy without losing control of the story or overwriting it. Nelson's images in the poems are really clear and visceral. I give it four and a half Hello Kittys. And I'd like to thank KA for giving it to be for Christmas; it was a perfect gift!