Here, in what you are reading, Meghan McClure has made of her body a book, each fragment a searching scar. I am in love with her for this. To read Portrait of a Body in Wreckages is to know intimacy, and grace, and violence, and love. It is to know the deepest reaches of human vulnerability and the aching tenderness that results when we, forever pained, move through our own hurt. It is hard to describe the beauty of this book. It is a gift of curiosity and trust. It is a compassionate testament to life both in spite of and because of birth. I wish everything I touched shimmered as true as these words do. Read this on a day you feel like surrendering, when what you do not understand becomes wild and surrounds you. “People are too big to love whole, and so we love them in parts,” Meghan writes. This book is little, so I can love it wholly. But even if it were bigger, I would rip out its pages and fashion out of them a skin.
Meghan McClure’s segmented work ranges with breathtaking ease across the terrain of the body and memory, looping between thought-provoking quotes and lyrical fragments. This work pushes beyond the autobiographical into an urgent and timeless present tense, beautifully delving into the corporeal and giving voice to the physical self.
In spare and fragmented lyric essays reminiscent of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, the author of Portrait of a Body in Wreckages interrogates the body as landscape, as first possession, as desired and desiring, wrecked and repaired. Or not. A stunning, thoughtful, and thoroughly original work.
In their moving collection, A Single Throat Opens, “M” and “M” invent multiple languages and forms with which to explore the altered consciousness of children of alcoholics, as well as the raw and slippery nature of “truth”. This nuanced and experimental collaboration—epistolary, rich in metaphor, investigative, reconstructive—is not only a gorgeous work of shared art-making but the document of a hard journey. It’s as if two immigrants from a ruined village found each other years later in a new country and, after a long, imposed silence, were able to practice the sustaining dialect of their troubled home country—a language which, translated here so precisely, so adeptly for the reader, opens into unexpected light.
McClure and Schmeltzer have concocted a compelling, lilting whisper of a work that defies genre. The blending of their words reminds me of a hushed table in the corner of a small café toward closing hours, where a candle trembles between the confessions of two shadows, leaning into one other. At times, it’s impossible to discern between the two voices, so tied are they in their reverence and reckoning, their lies and longing, their desire for the burn of drink mixed with the shared fear of it in their blood. The lyricism of A Single Throat Opens will make every listener thirsty, parched on the last page for more. This book is a yearning.
All good writing confesses things that the writer is not always ready to admit at that particular moment: an offering to the world to do with it what it will with no flinch of the wrist, no last second tug backward into the chest to keep our stories and ourselves safe from harm. What Michael Schmeltzer & Meghan McClure know about these confessions is that they are also collaborative—self and other, the blank bubbling of the world and the shaking truth—us as flawed humans cannot move through the world without the world. In A Single Throat Opens, Schmeltzer & McClure explore a landscape that has too much of everything, defining what is left & what they are, all the while tethered to their language and each other.