Caren Beilin’s The University of Pennsylvania reviewed at Full Stop

One of the most fascinating traits of Beilin’s prose is the way that words tumble into each other, dissolving their distinctions into portmanteaus: “‘Just drive,’ Olivia told her mother, and Mrs Knox — who was usually too frail, sick, and tired, to drive, or love — drove.” Elsewhere repetition and assonance causes clotting: “Beth kneels, devout to it, devout to kneeling, but needing reasons.” Descriptions of female anatomy in particular are characterised by a constant drift towards the figurative: Olivia’s hand is “a small splayed bouquet of bones”; a breast is “the weight of bread forgetting itself”; the clitoris is “a rooster’s drip of throat,” “a rodent’s red liver,” “the flower of guts,” “the bedraggled lung of something waterous, a barracuda’s ripped reason for breathing, hanging in the open, with rancid coral hueing.” Like Antigone as a child, rolling around in a park, flashing her underwear, The University of Pennsylvania seems to speak “in a language parallel to language.”

Read the rest at Full Stop.

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