Strawberry Fields (Fence Modern Prize in Prose) (Paperback)
Fence Books, 9781944380038, 224pp.
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Much of what is read as news is fake; still the real news is, at its very best, partial. At the heart of Strawberry Fields is the storied figure of the journalist, who despairs of accountability yet must accept its disorienting weight. This is a global fiction; these shapeshifting journalists together demonstrate the ethics of reading and writing "news from elsewhere." An antidote to the normalization wielded upon us by narrative, Hilary Plum crafts with dizzying invention a recursive disorientation of stories starting over and over again, without conclusion. The fragmentation of these harrowing truths, ripped from the headlines, is a reprieve; at least it's not really "happening," like normal fictions do, simulacra at the speed of life, not really "happening," at least not at the rate of narrativity. Oh, but it is. This fiction jumps through genres, destabilizing players and circumstances: revolutionary Ireland, Iraq in the midst of US invasion, and Pakistan during years of drone warfare, an eating disorder clinic, a farming community in the midst of pesticide poisoning, the plight of a journalist imprisoned in Mexico. Our throughline is the recurring story of a reporter, Alice, and a detective, Modigliani: together they failed to solve a crime that occurred years ago amid the chaos of a hurricane, and we find them now piecing together the stories of five murdered veterans of the war in Iraq. Making up nothing, or everything, all around the globe these horrors go on daily.