Counterpoint Press, softcover, 176 pp, $16.95
“THE POWER OF CONNECTION THAT GRAZED ME”
By Annie Dawid
Gustave Flaubert, the great French nineteenth century novelist, author of Madame Bovary and other classics, declared that his goal was “to write a beautiful sentence.”
Following that tradition, BK Loren, in her first book of non-fiction, writes paragraphs brimming with beautiful sentences, compelling her reader to follow her sometimes tragic, often humorous trajectory through family, illness, love, Nature, death, and birth.
I would like to learn from water, the way it penetrates without force, the way it wears away all that is solid, stubborn, immutable, the way it understands time, the way rivers tick ahead constantly without praying for immortality, the way they are full at every moment, though we see them rise and fall, the way water connects islands without destroying solitude, the subtle connections between, the silence of water.
Loren’s “flock of essays” – 12 of the 13 previously published in journals and anthologies – strays from the personal to the political, the sexual to the scientific, the best of them gathering multiple ideas like parti-colored lambs into one gorgeous herd.
“My father was a military man; in his assessment, I was a hippie.” Raised in Colorado near Rocky Flats, Loren charts a career from rural rituals like rattler gazing with her brother to suburban high school “joyrides” of bravado and danger to urban loneliness – including the story of the homeless Carlos who befriends her before being murdered by young male “hominids” – eventually circling back to where she came from, finding home and health with her partner, Lisa.
Health comes only after illness – her own and her mother’s and father’s and brother’s – some of it related to the Flats. “Three months after I was born, a massive fire struck the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility.” Various unsuccessful attempts to extinguish it are followed by the last resort: “several hundreds of acres of earth were saturated in water.” A week later, “in a single day, emissions registered 16,000 times the permissible level – a full 50 years’ worth of the allowable quota.”
Virginia Woolf wrote: “The beauty of the world has two edges: one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.” In Animal, Mineral, Radical, all edges of beauty appear, delineating both the sacred and profane.