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BODY GEOGRAPHIC  by Barrie Jean Borich Kirkus Star

BODY GEOGRAPHIC

From the American Lives series

By Barrie Jean Borich

Pub Date: March 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8032-3985-2
Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

A stunningly original memoir that explores a woman's connection to the real and imagined Midwestern landscapes that have defined her life.

Borich (Creative Writing/DePaul Univ.; My Lesbian Husband, 1999) takes on the formidable challenge of "countermapping [her] American body against 'the true and accurate atlas' any woman of [her] place and generation was supposed to follow." The author was born and grew up on Chicago's industrial South Side, which her Croatian grandfather helped to build. It was a place she "carr[ied] under [her] skin" in the same way she carried a tattoo of Chicago and her adopted city of Minneapolis on her back. Borich's path to Minnesota was anything but clear-cut. As a young woman, she traveled to a "prairie college town" in Illinois to attend college, but she gave herself over to alcohol and eventually dropped out. When a much older male lover in Minneapolis invited her to live with him, she joined him. But privately, she agonized over whether she was gay, straight or "something else." Borich's sexual quest(ion)ing led her to the lesbian community, where she began to map out her desires through the bodies of female lovers. In this riotously gender-bent world, she met Linnea, her future "husband." They shared a journey of partnership that would include excursions into the inevitable bodily reshapings brought about by time, desire and illness. Fragments of history—her own, her family's and those of the cities that have marked her life-coordinates—intermingle with images and actual maps of Borich's "Middle West.” Together, they create an elegant literary map that celebrates shifting topographies as well as human bodies in motion—not only across water and land, but also through life.

Poetic, complex and innovative.