By: Barrie Jean Borich, Department of English
Set in the steel mill regions of Chicago and in Northwest Indiana, "Apocalypse, Darling" centers on the author's return to a decimated landscape for a misbegotten wedding in which her spouse's father marries his high school sweetheart. "Apocalypse, Darling" tells the story of the industrial heartland that produced the steel that made American cities - while also being one of the most toxic environmental sites in the world. As concise as a poem and as sweeping as an epic novel, "Apocalypse, Darling" explores the intersection of American traditional and self-invented social identities, and the destruction and re-greening of industrial cityscapes. Borich asks: Can toxic landscapes actually be remediated, and can patriarchal fathers ever really be forgiven?
What's the most surprising thing you learned while writing this book?
One of the first reviewers of the book talks about the work as a kind of prayer, which reminds me that when I began I wasn't sure I was a person still capable of praying. What I found, through this writing, was that my deep identification, love and struggle with the parts of Chicago that made me is my deepest religion. I see the book as a queer adaptation of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Wasteland." What the project led me to find, and keep seeking, is that which keeps remaking: "What branches grow out of this stony rubbish?"
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by a moment I write about early in the book in which my past and present collide, a landscape encountered enroute to a family wedding: "Even knowing what's ahead, the highway inclining under the wheels of the car as it passes through the toll gate, the signage making clear that this is the exit onto the SKYWAY, it's still not immediately apparent that this is not just a road but a bridge breaking into open air, so then a shock, the way first the old East Side port and then downtown Gary open beneath us, a pictorial centerfold."
About the author:
Barrie Jean Borich is an associate professor in DePaul's Department of English, where she edits Slag Glass City, a journal of the urban essay arts. She is the author of "Apocalypse, Darling." Her memoir "Body Geographic" won a Lambda Literary Award and Kirkus called the book "an elegant literary map that celebrates shifting topographies as well as human bodies in motion." Borich's previous book, "My Lesbian Husband" won the ALA Stonewall Book Award.
Publisher, publication date, length:
Mad Creek Books: Literary Imprint of Ohio State University Books, January 2018, 120 pages
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