Book Review: Violence / Joy / Chaos
VIOLENCE / JOY / CHAOS
Jane Marshall Fleming
Number of Pages: 154
This debut full-length hybrid collection of essays and poetry explores the moments of joy and chaotic hilarity that mingle with the experiences of trauma and trauma recovery. Jane Marshall Fleming writes with boldness and shows the beauty in every moment amidst violent chaos, embracing joy just as much as darkness. Moving from a backdrop of a small Virginia town and eventually finding herself in the freedom and wilderness of the desert, readers will follow the author on her journey mapping her skin, sharing in her joys, grief, pain, loss, discovering love and self-growth, night-blooming like a desert flower.
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The words. It's all about the beautiful and pristine and hurtful words that makes this book well worth reading. From the very beginning, the author does a great job of grabbing you in with her wonderfully used words that it just intrigues you to finish this book so that you can read more beautifully, tragic sentences. When the author writes about love, she writes it all down in a poetically induced atmosphere. And when she is hurting and clinging to the words of her ex-lover, she seamlessly mirrors her feelings onto her pages.
The author was able to redirect me into her life while reminding me of my own young adult life. She brought out memories of past loves, past friendships and how, as I'm in the middle of my 20's, things are still changing and a single moment in my life can either be remembered or forgotten. One part of the book that really choked me up was when she was describing looking through old photos of friends and how she never thought that the last time she would see those friends would be in this picture. I always think about that. How some old friends of mine saw each other for the last time and we didn't even realize it. Reminds us all that we are not invincible to time.
But my skin is transparent.These are the bones we cover with skin,
I commend the author for writing down her life situations and her feelings. It's not an easy thing to do, but she was brave enough to write down all the joys, the love, the highs and the lows and kindly let us know about her dreadlocks phase. She is raw and she is real and she makes you feel like you are not alone, which is especially needed right now through these crazy times. And her ability to be so honest with her life, makes you just want to read until the cow jumps over the moon.
I also just loved the way that the author moves around her writing style throughout the book. In one chapter, you usually read an essay styled story and then a poem and then sometimes it felt like I was reading slam poetry and then back to essays. It really keeps the reader engaged and it was great on transitioning from one part of her life to another.
I would recommend this book to any young or even middle-aged adults who love poetry or just looking for something relatable and true. It was a real honor to read this book with its beautifully written words and its heavy topics. If you have time right now, it is National Poetry month, so give this title a go. Until next time, Happy Reading!
Jane Marshall Fleming is an author and artist living in Austin, Texas. She currently works as an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is also the author of the chapbook, Ocotillo Worship (Apep Publications, 2019). Violence/Joy/Chaos is her first full length collection.
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