Janet Kauffman writes with a clarity of voice that cuts clean through the brush of language but leaves no trail---we couldn't turn back even if we wanted to. This is a story that tracks a father whose wish is to die in the open, open to the elements. He's a Mennonite, a pacifist, obsessed with Stalin and other tyrants, and he's determined to redefine power, rethink what it is to be good. With his daughter, and with his friend Irene, he finds collaborators in his passion for trespass. This book has moments where the writing is both beautiful and grotesque: fitting, as the book itself tackles the fantastic contradictions of the human experience.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.88" Width: 5.07" Height: 0.39" Weight: 0.72 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2001
Publisher New Issues Poetry Press
ISBN 1930974027 ISBN13 9781930974029
Availability 0 units.
More About Janet Kauffman
Janet Kauffman grew up on a tobacco farm in Pennsylvania. She now works her own farm and teaches in Michigan. She is the author of three works of fiction, "Obscene Gestures for Women," "Collaborators," and "The Body in Four Parts" and two books of poetry, "The Weather Book" and "Where the World Is," "Collaborators" and "The Body in Four Parts" are both available through Graywolf.
The cover blurb (most of which is reproduced above in this listing) isn't fair to this book. Don't be turned off, as I nearly was, by its glib, bouncy summary. The book itself is not glib, but neither is it "difficult." It's quiet, and drifts deeper into one's thoughts, like a piece of wood gathering water's weight and falling to a streambed. I was more struck by the father-daughter-(grand)daughter relationships than by the exploration of what it means to be or contain evil. However, in 85 short pages, I felt I got only enough of either theme to mull over, not enough to be captivated by.
A gem of a book - Kauffman has mastered her craft and talent Jul 4, 2001
In Places in the World a Woman Could Walk, author Janet Kauffman showed herself to be an author of great talent. In Rot she fulfills all that was "promised" by the earlier book. (Not that the intervening books are bad, they simply don't meet the high expectations set by the earlier work.) Rot is the final installment of a trilogy Flesh Made Word that includes Collaborators, The Body in Four Parts and Rot; however, Rot stands alone equally well.
Rot is an exploration of the death of a father, and an exploration of what death means to this particular father - a tobacco farmer, a pacifist, a Mennonite, a reader of biographies especially of dictators ... He is a man who does things "his way" whose friend and granddaughter are equally independent. He is philosophical but in a quiet, unobstrusive way - with a physicality of thought. And example: "My father tells me a person should not take longer to die than to be born. You slipped in, my father says. Your mother didn't blink."
The book plays the father-daughter relationship off Stalin/Svetlana (Stalin's daughter), off the relationship with the daughter revealing the complexity of the relationship and the variety of ways love is expressed and recognized/not recognized as well as how the same external actions may express power rather than love.
This a pure gem of a book, an excellent evening's read.