Constantly surprising, these personal essays explore the
attractions and dangers of intimacy and the violence that often
arises in close relationships. Deulen's artful storytelling and
dialogue also draw the reader into complicated questions about
class, race, and gender.
In "Aperture," she considers how she has contributed to her
autistic brother's isolation from family and from the world.
"Theft" investigates her mother's romantic stories about
conquistadors in the context of the Mexican heritage of her
biracial family. Throughout the collection Deulen experiments
formally, alternating traditional narrative with "still life"
essays and collages that characterize a particular time, place, and
Deulen is remarkable in her ability to present her own confusion
and culpability, and she also writes with compassion for others,
such as her own suicidal and unpredictable father or a boy in her
class who sets the teacher's hair on fire. In part because she
herself so poorly fits the identities she might be assigned-white
in appearance, she is in fact half Latina; raised in a poor
neighborhood, she has acquired an education associated with the
middle class-Deulen sees "otherness" as a useless category and the
enemy of intimacy, which she embraces despite its risks.
The Riots seeks to create what Frost called "a
momentary stay against confusion," and Deulen investigates her own
act of creation even as she uses the craft of writing to put
parentheses around the chaos of continuous living.
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