Hilary Plum’s essay in the latest issue of Brooklyn Rail, “Narrating Forgetting,” explores the literature inspired by war in Iraq, which includes her two novels: They Dragged Them Through the Streets and Strawberry Fields, published by Fence in April 2018. The essay provides a glimpse into her life and process, but also features a remarkable reading list that suggests what poetry, essays, and fiction can offer in difficult times. As an editor, Plum acquires for Rescue Press and Cleveland State University Poetry Center (also programming the Lighthouse Reading Series) and she was previously responsible for the books published by Clockroot Books, an imprint of Interlink, that was active between 2009-2013. More information about Plum (including reviews of Strawberry Fields in Consequence, Zyzzyva, and Full Stop) can be found on her website.
While writing this second novel I grew preoccupied with how hard it was even to read journalism, a seemingly accessible genre: how much of the work of journalism the reader—and sometimes the journalist—may misread or avoid. The novel moves quickly among settings and situations in an exaggerated echo of the daily newspaper and its disorientation, where the story of a new US drone base in Niger yields to the write-up of a wedding in New York, which yields to a follow-up on the long water crisis in Flint. What happens when the reader accepts a brief paragraph as knowledge? What of the language of facts do we truly hear? These questions begin somewhere and proceed through #fakenews. These questions begin in an appetite I too share, a desire to know, a habit of consuming something I treat as knowledge. I wrote the novel to try to learn who I am when I read.
–Hilary Plum, “Narrating Forgetting” (Brooklyn Rail, Sept. 2018)