Writers Read | Lacy Johnson

Article by debut-author

Lacy Johnson's new book THE OTHER SIDE tells her personal harrowing story of kidnap and escape. Her first memoir, TRESPASSES, presented the rural landscape of the Great Plains through a series of prose poems and essays. In THE OTHER SIDE, she continues to write an almost poetic rumination on an extraordinarily difficult subject.

We asked Lacy to recommend a few books that brought her inspiration as she wrote THE OTHER SIDE:

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Bluets Cover Image
ISBN: 9781933517407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wave Books - October 2009

I’m a huge fan of Maggie Nelson, and I read Bluets just as I was turning my attention away from TRESPASSES and toward the book that would become THE OTHER SIDE. In Bluets, Maggie Nelson opens with a premise “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color,” and though the color blue is a consistent obsession throughout the work, she also turns her attention to the end of a disappointing love affair, and the failing health of a quadriplegic friend, and ruminates on these three subjects in waves throughout the book. What emerges in this juxtaposition is a powerful meditation on desire and grief.

The Guardians: An Elegy for a Friend Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250024152
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - March 5th, 2013

The Guardians is Sarah Manguso’s first release since The Two Kinds of Decay, which was my introduction to her work. In The Guardians Manguso recounts in an unrelenting stream of brief lyrical vignettes the events surrounding the death of a close friend. I read it in one breathless sitting. The newspapers and police reports would conclude that the friend’s death was an obvious suicide, though Manguso’s book calls these conclusions into question. Manguso plumbs the depths of emotion and reason with incredible bravery, poetry, and grace.

The Reenactments: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393344356
Availability: Backordered
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 7th, 2013

I’ve read all three books in Nick Flynn’s trilogy of memoirs, and The Reenactments is by far my favorite. I picked it up when I thought I was nearly finished working on THE OTHER SIDE, which at that time drew heavily on neuroscience and art history. And then I read The Reenactments, which draws heavily on neuroscience and art history, and felt completely furious even fifty pages in because I realized that the book I was trying to write had already been written, and better than I would have done, by Nick Flynn. So I said a few choice words, scrapped that draft, which was already the seventeenth or twenty-third draft, and started over. In the end, it was for the best, and The Reenactments is, in my opinion, a brilliant example of the ways memoir can — and it should — transcend a narrative of one person’s experience, and instead shed light on the complexity of the world in which we all live.

Lacy Johnson signs THE OTHER SIDE on Thursday, July 24 at 7 o'clock

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