Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesday: Dispatches From the Drownings by B. J. Hollars

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

What you've just seen is a murky video of what I'm guessing is a rose floating--and drowning--in a swimming pool.  I'm also guessing that the visual muddiness in the trailer for Dispatches From the Drownings by B. J. Hollars is intentional.  The subtitle of the new book from the University of New Mexico Press is "Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction" and, though I've not yet seen a copy, I gather that Hollars is all about the blurry, the muddy, the permeability of boundaries.  So, while I may be a bit frustrated by the book trailer, I'm definitely intrigued by the book's contents.  Here's the jacket copy to topple fence-sitters to one side or the other:
Disturbed by stories of drownings in the river behind his home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, writer B. J. Hollars combed the archives of local newspapers only to discover vast discrepancies in articles about the deaths. In homage to Michael Lesy's cult classic, Wisconsin Death Trip, Hollars pairs reports from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century journalists with fictional versions, creating a hybrid text complete with facts, lies, and a wide range of blurring in between. Charles Van Schaick's macabre, staged photographs from the era appear alongside the dispatches, further complicating the messiness of history and the limits of truth.
Here's a nice bit of praise from Jill Talbot (author of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction):
"In this fascinating blend of fact, fiction, and photography, B. J. Hollars offers a chilling exploration of death by drowning in the waters of Wisconsin. Through historical collaboration and artistic collage, Hollars considers how the facts we're left with after unexpected (and unbearable) loss shape shadows from what will never be known. This book is at once a commentary on the limitations of journalism and the slipperiness of storytelling. Hollars has created a mesmerizing experience for the reader, an experiment that re-creates the way our minds piece together stories from the murky depths of what is there and what is imagined. I read this in one sitting, and I'll read it again."
For more on Hollars' writing and his research into Eau Claire drowning reports, I direct you to this interview with Joe Bonomo.  By the way, this is not Hollars' first Trailer Park Tuesday appearance; long-time Quivering Pen readers may remember the video I posted in early 2013 for his short story collection, Sightings.  Further digging around the internet for information about Dispatches From the Drownings led me to the author's wonderful blog in which he reviews books in the context of his daily life (i.e., reading Eula Biss' On Immunity as his child is born, or Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine while assembling lawn furniture at the start of summer).  It proves Hollars is both an interesting writer and reader.

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