Selling the Farm: Descants from a Recollected Past
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"Debra Di Blasi's extended lyric essay Selling the Farm: Descants from a Recollected Past is at once a sustained consideration of the strange and felt world of children, a meditation on time and 'memory's echo, ' and a profoundly moving elegy for a lost sister. It's also an exercise in awe: at the natural world, where animals have 'cut eons into black loam, ' and at the murky, distant, and too-often cruel world of adults. Above all else, Selling the Farm is an exploration of the placeness of childhood, which Di Blasi brings into focus with astonishing precision, intelligence, and complexity. For those who find in themselves a knee-jerk inclination to see the rural Midwest as merely flat and plain and simple, this book is a perfect, stunning corrective."
--Wayne Miller, author of Post- and winner of the 2017 Rilke Prize
"Through dynamic layering of sound and syntax, lyric juxtaposition of scene, and agile engagement with the landscape of the page, Di Blasi captures the strange and unstable way that memory works and follows Walter Benjamin's cue that a book should 'either dissolve a genre or invent one.' Owing much to Hopkins' sprung rhythm, an activist sensibility, and a rollicking disruption and reanimation of memoir's fundamentals, Selling the Farm--with its snapshots of fallow fields and water's muddy haste and roar, flashes of childhood ghosts, lineages of grief, populations of sparrows, and meanwhiles of bee colony collapse--is an uprooted biography of place in the tempered un-space of time, a book through which the am-I-there of memory breaks open and reimagines the very genre of memoir."
-EJ Colen, author of What Weaponry and The Green Condition
"God assigned Adam to name what he saw around him. For all we know, it may have been Eve, the first scientist, who took it on. In Selling the Farm Debra Di Blasi continues the tradition, gifting us a stirring and richly visual tapestry and language of Nature, observing and naming plants, animals, insects, worms, stones. She brings alive a kind of Eden for the five siblings, weighed against 'the parents' endless shouting inside the airless house' and a father who 'squandered his poetry in stubborn silence.' With spare and minute details, Di Blasi manages to convey the full spectrum of feelings that color our relationship with family, and hers with Nature."
--Tsipi Keller, author of Nadja on Nadja and The Prophet of Tenth Street
"Selling the Farm is a flashing flagellum of memory echo... a lyrical alchemy of the imago's imagination distilled down to the ghost-critters of a phantom farm moldering into fungal loam... a translation of fear of fear unto fever visions so tangible they tantalize the lambent, pullulating, screeling diapasons of place in which 'not a one of us has a map'... and there is no expiation beyond revision as 'a measure of forgetting.'"
--Mark Spitzer, author of Investigative Creative Writing: Teaching and
Practice and In Search of Monster Fish: Angling for a Sustainable Planet