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In The Reviews: Notes from a Swing State

America, Book Review, Essays, Notes from a Swing State, Planet, the welsh agenda, Wales, Zoë Brigley -

In The Reviews: Notes from a Swing State

Zoë Brigley's essay collection Notes from a Swing State has had two recent, favourable reviews in the latest issues of Planet and the welsh agenda.

'If, as for Raymond Williams, great shifts in time and society are a picking up and setting back down again, then surely we are currently within just such an undefined state, the consequences of which are unknown until the settling and evaluating that comes with the aftermath. The swing state of this new collection of essays by Zoë Brigley is not only Ohio and the Electoral College, but self, home, nationhood and identity. Body, mind and the interactions between them within temporal and physical spaces are navigated throughout a work swinging itself between academic form, personal recollection, metaphor, allegory and memoir. [...] Here Brigley offers the view from the swinging-state, not a given, not a pendulum of history – there will be no returning, trusted, fixed points, nor faith in rules of physics or numbers on this journey – but a moving back and forth across more than geographical borders, in juxtaposition with the swinging states of womanhood, motherhood, loss, growth and identity. [...] In our current climate we are searching collective memory and experience for a way to diagnose and heal the psychic wound inflicted by unending elections, referenda, guns, bills, power and ideology. We would do well to keep this intervention from Brigley within our cultural first aid kit, and to heed its warnings. We read, we write, we talk. We answer these letters with our own.' – Cath Beard, Planet

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'one of the most immediate and striking characteristics of Notes from a Swing State: Writing from Wales and America, is its boldness and lucidity of expression [...] A criticism often levelled at the personal essay is its potential for self-indulgence. In the case of Notes from a Swing State, however, Brigley's maintained focus on critically relevant topics including gender inequality, mass shootings, and social deprivation prevent the essays from drifting towards decadence. Each narrative integrates the subjective with the objective in a balance which illuminates the most crucial aspects of both.' – Polly Manning, the welsh agenda

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