The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays

Julia Koets (Author)


In this collection of linked, lyrical essays, Julia Koets writes, "When you date in secret, the pressure is different. You're weightless. You're stuck in between jumping and landing. You exist in midair. Your bones start to thin." Growing up in a small town in the South, Julia and her childhood best friend Laura know the church as well as they know each other's bodies--the California-shaped scar on Julia's right knee, the tapered thinness of Laura's fingers, the circumference of each other's ponytails. When Laura's family moves away in middle school and Julia gets a crush on the new priest's daughter at their church, Julia starts to more fully realize the consequences of being anything but straight in the South. After college, when Julia and her best friend Kate wait tables at a rib joint in Julia's hometown, they are forced to face the price of the secrets they've kept--from their families, each other, and themselves. From astronaut Sally Ride's obituary, to a UFO Welcome Center, to a shark tooth collection, to DC Comic's Gay Ghost, this memoir-in-essays draws from mythology, religion, popular culture, and personal experience to examine how coming out is not a one-time act. At once heartrending and beautiful, The Rib Joint explores how fear and loss can inhabit our bodies and, contrastingly, how naming our desire allows us to feel the heart beating in our chest.

Product Details

$17.95  $16.51
Red Hen Press
Publish Date
November 05, 2019
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Julia Koets's poetry collection, Hold Like Owls (University of South Carolina Press), won the 2011 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, judged by National Book Award Winner Nikky Finney, and her memoir-in-essays, The Rib Joint (Red Hen Press), won the 2017 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Book Award judged by Mark Doty. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Creative Nonfiction, and the Los Angeles Review. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of South Carolina and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. She currently teaches at Clemson University.

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"I grew up in the church," writes Julia Koets, "the way some people grow up in a neighborhood." And around that sentence, The Rib Joint examines what it means to live inside a structure that both feeds and starves you at once--especially if you're queer. With radical intuition, Koets thinks about the price of secrets, implying at every turn that love and lies can't share the same space. A brilliant, unsettling book.

There's so much to admire in Julia Koets's first book of essays. She demonstrates enormous skill at turning a subject inside out, revealing clinical interest in that subject while spinning lyrical connections between abstract ideas and detailed memories.

--The Gertrude Press

-- Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

Engaging, poignant, and at times wryly humorous, this book explores gender and identity through the eyes of a sensitive and perceptive young woman growing up in the South. Julia Koets writes with vulnerability, warmth, and a lyrical style that pulls the reader straight through to the end.
-- Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden