Her 37th Year, An Index
While reading Her Thirty-Seventh Year, An Index, I had to set it down many times to either think, sigh, breathe, nod, or say aloud to no one, “I wish I wrote this.” Her new book is achingly beautiful— Scanlon writes the normally unspeakable things we think about grief, heartbreak, joy, and feminism. She figures things out for us so that we don’t have to. A necessary book I will return to again and again.
The world looks different after this book. I don’t know how else to say it—a simple conversation, a fleeting memory, the seemingly random are suddenly drenched with significance; one woman’s life and heart layered with literature, with film, with history and philosophy and psychology. Its structure is brilliant, an archive of longing both poetic and precise; a love-letter to language. I still feel hypnotized.
What if you compressed your life, as it existed so far, into a lexicon of impressions and moments that seem to stick, unable to shake from your self and psyche? Suzanne Scanlon‘s In Her Thirty-Seventh Year, An Index is such a lexicon—beautifully written, attended to tangibly and emotionally. We need more literature such as this. That is, we need literature that questions the way a body and its life unbecomes all that it seemed it was living for and towards.
Her 37th Year, An Index is the story of a year in one woman’s life. Structured as an index, the work is a collage of excerpted conversations, letters, quotations, moments, and dreams. An exploration of longing and desire, the story follows a moment of crisis in a marriage and in the life of a woman who remains haunted by an unassimilable past. Allan Gurganus called an early version of the work a “thoroughly engrossing almanac of desire” when it was published by The Iowa Review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suzanne Scanlon is the author of Promising Young Women (Dorothy, 2012). She lives in Chicago and teaches in the creative writing programs at Columbia College and Roosevelt University.
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Reviews and News
Kathleen Rooney reviews Suzanne Scanlon’s Her 37th Year, An Index, in the Chicago Tribune. Here’s a sample:
One of the many brilliant aspects of this book is that the form permits Scanlon to offer a built-in answer. For an index is a guide, an imposition of a pattern on something that does not necessarily suggest that pattern, in this case, the life of Scanlon’s protagonist, who is attempting to catalog her life so far: attending university, being in a mental institution, having affairs, getting married, giving birth to a child and so on. This structure lets Scanlon capitalize on the by-turns fun, wry and melancholy juxtapositions of entries in an index due to the happy accidents of alphabetical order. In this way, she emphasizes how such indices can lead to inadvertent insights merely by letting a reader see one alphabetical name or phrase preceding or following another.
Read the rest at the Chicago Tribune. (Warning: you’ll have to register.)
Congratulations to Caren Beilin, whose manuscript, The University of Pennsylvania, is the winner of the 2013 Noemi Book Award for Fiction.
We will also be publishing Her 37th Year, an Index by Suzanne Scanlon.
Finalists for the 2013 Noemi Press Book Award for Fiction:
- MOVIEOLA! by John Domini
- Rats That Will Eat You by Adam Kaplan
- Cockpuncher by Zach Powers
- The University of Pennsylvania by Caren Beilin
- Doom Town and Other Stories by Wendell Mayo
- Her 37th Year, an Index by Suzanne Scanlon
- Out of Which Came Nothing by Laurie Blauner
- The Devil and the Dairy Princess by Pedro Ponce
- Liner Notes by James Brubaker
- In No Strange Land by Joe Milazzo