Does the body want to be a story? Does it always ask for “narrative repair?” What happens when people tell you about your family’s suffering before your suffering tells you about itself?
In this groundrepairing debut book, Christine Friedlander asks, “What if a long pause is all I know?” A stitch-up of poetry, visual collage, bandages, memoir, and anti-advice, Avant Gauze does not fill in. It fills around.
Friedlander rejects the luridity of catharsis to discover gauze: a new form to weave around trauma and gazes and history, a radical redefinition of healing.
• BIO •
Christine Friedlander is a writer, accessible testing specialist, and survivor advocate from northern New Jersey. In the event of an emergency, she may also be used as a flotation device. Christine holds degrees from the University of Minnesota and Bucknell University, and serves as Poetry Editor for Gigantic Sequins.
“The adage that poetry 'heals all wounds' is as damaging as the assumption that all wounds bleed. Healing, in the traditional sense, isn’t always an option ... Avant Gauze is a beautiful, chaotic, overflowing art object."
“Empathy is about our ability to comprehend the suffering of others. Few books have shaken me into empathy as much as Christine Friedlander’s Avant Gauze. A closer look than most of us have ever had at the poet’s view of blood and gauze, and love for this world. This is a book you will not be lending out. Make them buy their own. I’m holding onto this one for life!"
“Christine Friedlander explores the false promises of language as a healing element, the gauze that allows us oblique access to something we can infer as evidence of violence—a bruise, a cut, a mangling torque—but it conceals as much as it reveals.
Without revictimizing the viewer or turning violence into abstraction, powerful and, yes, beautiful, illustrations display the linguistic and material gauze that silences, suffocates, heals, lies, taking us deeper into this high-stakes inquiry on which our lives depend.”
“Oh, my love, this book that came to me in the water. This book, Avant Gauze by Christine Friedlander, my love, I don't even know how to begin to describe how it is needed, to describe how it urgently creates, how it insists so deeply on space.
Avant Gauze intensely and painfully examines what it means to listen to a story, what it means to write a plush, bleeding one, how a plush, bleeding one gets stolen, how much we want you to shut up and heal. Why do we want rape victims, bodies in pain to swim for us? Why are we taught to ease them into a mermaid suit of our comfortable choice?
Avant Gauze is a critical, imperative feeling or a Boiling Forest. A ruthless, compassionate dive into more, a body covered, a body uncovered, a body filled with the inexpressible. Is she alone or is she speaking or is she feeling or is she real or is she blank? Maybe, my love, none of your ideas about her matter. Maybe, my love, we don't know what we're capable of.”