Before the book began, the pages of the birth manual blew open in wind, birds flew out of the sleeves of books. There was rust and persimmon flowers. Dark rooms like membranes pulsating, detached, gray matter bleeding into other rooms. Snapshots into memories just on the border of then. Before the wound made legible, a function of ink and time.
— from “The Boneyard”
There is a misconception of place, time, and atmosphere of the Heartland. It’s not always calm. It’s not rolling hills and farmland and nice people who do nice things for other nice people, and continue their existence in a silo of that same nice feeling. Instead, it can be dark and desolate and forever changing – like a landscape is supposed to, rather than how it’s imagined.
Julia Madsen’s The Boneyard, The Birth Manual, A Burial: Investigations into the Heartland (Trembling Pillow Press) cuts down the myths and legends of the learned perceptions of what the midwest is supposed to be like. It’s “how magic occurs in silence, alone, when nobody’s around for miles and miles and you think now of small animals tunneling the dark.” It’s the way those who are born to the working-class live within hard-lived scenery. It’s messy. It’s cluttered. It’s lonely.
This collection is about taking back reality. It’s about revisioning the way the world sees everyday life. Madsen sets out to guide us through, almost scene by scene, through a time where you might be “the only one working right now / and we can’t really save anything”.