Diana Arterian and Allie Rowbottom

Posted in literature, skylight books, book stores, books, poetry, Memoir, nonfiction, history by skylightbooks on October 12th, 2018

Playing Monster :: Seiche is a book-length poem by Diana Arterian that incessantly dodges between two narratives: the speaker's childhood experiences with an abusive father and, as an adult, increasingly aggressive acts made toward her mother by strange men. It is a piece of noir poetics. It is also memoir and documentary. Through tight, spare poems, Arterian's unflinching descriptions of difficult life experiences fight aestheticization, engaging directly with the events as through the poetry of witness.

In 1899, Allie Rowbottom's great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege - but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments. More than 100 years after that deal was struck, Allie's mother Mary was diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother's life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the "Jell-O curse" and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family's past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. Jell-O Girls is the liberation of that story.

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