Literary Nonfiction. Essays. Art. Women's Studies. In Sarah Minor's adventurous and investigatory debut collection of essays, BRIGHT ARCHIVE, place and space are inextricably linked through an imaginative exploration of the patterns, shapes, and systems that alternately organize and disrupt our ordinary intimacies. From a recollection of a summer spent working in an Italian commune to the business of mollusks in Minor's grandparents' hometown in Iowa; from the history of the mapping of the Mississippi River to the mythologies of the image of the lean; from studies of soffits and hidden spaces to the freedom found at the top of an island birch tree, these essays reach beyond the classically confined trajectories of literary nonfiction. Using elements of memoir, concrete poetry, archival research, interview, performance, and design in a radiant kaleidoscope of storytelling, the essays in BRIGHT ARCHIVE delight in challenging the reader's habits of interaction with the page and its possibilities.
Sarah Minor's sense of what an essay is, what it can look like, and what it can contain is way beyond what almost anyone else is even attempting. Open to any page in this book and you're going to encounter something new. Every essay's an invention, a new possession, and I for one am down with being possessed if the spirit that possesses me is like Minor's, comprised of wonder, wit, and intelligence. Prepare to read differently: BRIGHT ARCHIVE is a miracle.-Ander Monson
In BRIGHT ARCHIVE, Sarah Minor's inventive, surprising, and moving collection of visual essays, short prose pieces nestle in the soffits of an old family home, sentences wind themselves into knots, passages draft alongside the banks of the Mississippi River-as a way of interrogating the relationships between and among literal, figurative, and symbolic spaces. Minor is preoccupied with interiors and exteriors, bodies and imaginations, myths and secrets, with how places are entered and marked by their inhabitants, and how people, too are shaped. 'All I'm saying is that belief might design a body and not always the other way around. All I'm saying is that a living container could bear signs of the life it contains.' In this thrilling debut, Minor guides us deftly through the underground tunnels of a new age commune, to the branches of a birch tree to build a nest. This collection traverses continents and moves through time, insistent in its curiosity and dazzling in its innovation.-Mary-Kim Arnold
My favorite books are somehow architectural, and I've never encountered one built quite like this. Minor's prose has underground temples, a shadow self, it becomes the thing it describes. Prose morphing into pearls, rivers down the page, a diagram directs the eye, cupping an essay's threads. This is a book that, through both story and design, reminds us what wonder feels like.-Aisha Sabatini Sloan