BUFFALO TRACE by Mary Cappello


A Threefold Vibration
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Three scholars share their intimate experiences with identity.

Anchored in Buffalo, the book traces the experiences of three writers: Cappello (English/Univ. of Rhode Island; Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack, 2016, etc.), Morrison (Film and Literature/Claremont McKenna Coll.; Everyday Ghosts, 2011, etc.), and Walton (Gender and Women’s Studies/Univ. of Rhode Island; Fair Sex, Savage Dreams: Race, Psychoanalysis, Sexual Difference, 2001). Each author takes a section of the book, underlining the different ways in which their identity was questioned both in their academic endeavors and romances. As a gay graduate student at SUNY-Buffalo, Morrison spent his academic career studying the works of the poststructuralists by way of modernist works of literature. “I wanted above all to be an intellectual without being pretentious, if such a thing was possible,” he writes. Most importantly, Morrison wanted to instill in his students the urgency of writing. He waxes poetic about the meaning of writing in a world where everything is determined and questions the role of the reader in the signifying process. Cappello memorably relates how she began to fall for Walton, a fellow graduate student, and Walton describes her thoughts as she collected women around her: “I had decided it was time to put into practice a new ethic with regard to intimate liaisons, sternly forbidding myself from coloring them with the conventions of romantic love, which is to say, the whole story of exclusive monogamy, engagement, marriage, baby carriage.” The authors weave a thick web of interpersonal theory, effectively creating a praxis around sexuality, literature, and critical theory. Though much of the book is a series of countless allusions to literature that might feel foreign to some readers, it is an engaging account of academia as well as a series of highly personal (and effective) applications of theory in real life.

A compelling hybridization of sex and critical theory.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-947980-18-1
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Spuyten Duyvil
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2018


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