Bough Down, a Best Book of 2013On so many lists

reviews, 01/01/14

Michael Schaub, NPR BOOKS

“I worry I broke your kneecaps when I cut you down,” writes the artist Karen Green in her debut book. “I keep hearing that sound.” It doesn’t get any easier from there — Bough Down is one of the most heartbreaking books you’re likely to read, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. A meditation on the 2008 suicide of her husband, the novelist David Foster Wallace, Green’s book combines prose poetry with visual art to create something wrenching, powerful and ultimately unclassifiable. It’s not only one of the best books of the year; it’s one of the most stunning books about grief to come out in decades.

Posted December 5, 2013

Meghan O’Rourke, SLATE

One of the most singular books I read this year—a book that left an indelible impression on me—is Karen Green’s Bough Down, a lyric elegy for a husband who took his own life. Comprising both visual collages and elliptical prose entries, Bough Down is a lament for a lost love, by turns yearning, acerbic, resigned, and alive with protest. Green’s husband was the writer David Foster Wallace, though he is never mentioned by name; the book is a triumph on its own terms.

Posted November 30, 2013

Buzz Poole, Imprint

Not all gifts have to be about good times. Because let’s face it, life isn’t all about fun. Karen Green’s elegy for her dead husband reminds readers of how loss is one of life’s defining characteristics and in doing so she has produced an intimate and singular book. With a diamond cutter’s precision the prose transforms a mass of sadness into the multifaceted, and forever difficult, state of recovery. Like Green’s delicate miniature collages also found on these pages, every line of the book demands attention, not in a needy sense but in the I-want-a-magnifying-glass sense so you don’t miss anything. The heady weight of Bough Down is made more intense by the fact that Green was married to David Foster Wallace when he hanged himself.  This is never explicitly acknowledged in the book, but it does add another layer to lines freighted with inspiring honesty: “You’ve won every argument except the one about my being better off.”

Posted December 13, 2013

Lincoln Michel, Buzzfeed

19 AWESOMELY DESIGNED BOOKS FROM 2013 THAT PROVE PRINT ISN’T DEADBough Down is a gripping memoir of grief and loss. Green’s husband, the author David Foster Wallace, committed suicide in 2008. The text is interspersed with Green’s own collage art. David Ulin called the book “an impressionistic miracle, an assemblage of short text fragments and collages by an artist trying to make sense of her husband’s suicide.

Posted December 16, 2013

Emily Stokes, Financial Times

It’s hard to remember tender things tenderly,’ writes Green in her debut, a reckoning with the death of her husband, novelist David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008. Written in short bursts of poetic prose, and illustrated with Green’s collages, it is lyrical, bitterly funny and devastating.

Posted November 29, 2013  (Scroll down to Literary Non-Fiction)


Also, see The Poetry Foundation’s “Gifting Verse” feature, Kate Zambreno’s write-up at Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s best of 2013 list at The Volta!

see also

✼ elsewhere:

Open now — an exhibition of Christian Marclay’s work at Centre Pompidou, designed as a network of affinities and echoes according to the multimedia artist’s way of thinking, combining the preexisting with reinterpretation and metamorphosis.


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