Tyann Prentice, To See Your Love Suffer, We Heard You Like Books, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Corrao

[Review Guidelines]

To See Your Love Suffer (We Heard You Like Books, 2017) reimagines the Revelations of Divine Love experienced by Julian of Norwich / in which the narrator lies bedridden / approaching death as she witnesses a series of mystic visions / visceral and erotic images connected to the crucified Christ / trapped in bed / the setting becomes distant and abstract / on the surface a sick-bed novel / reminiscent of Malone Dies and By Night In Chile / but neither approach the same kind of hallucinatory mise-en-scene / without mobility Prentice turns the body into its own landscape / each event set within Julian of Norwich / "A body as text but I don't write my body—you do, fashioning / me as a book to be read." / the text localized / rendered tactile and haptic / each page fells like a plane of existence / topologies shaped by paper and press / or like the inside of the victim's skull / ink as it forms the language of a divined figure / images tapped from an unknowable source //

The first half of this book almost exclusively plays out within the narrator's psyche / where the reader is left to wander / through mystic ambiguities / encountering occult symbols / evidence of the holy and desirable / Prentice shapes a new book-body / laid out in a style swaying between prose and poetics / scrawling words inside the self / where we are brought to find them / questioning the circumstances of their formation / trying to reconstruct their previous and new meanings /  the visions experienced by Julian of Norwich feel true and powerful / more capable in their approach towards the drifting ontology / of the bedridden protagonist / more natural than the ramblings of By Night In Chile / or the rhythmic hysteria of Malone Dies / each new image drags itself from the unconscious / a voice does not carry itself through the void / divine manifestations descend through a biological medium //

You pry open the skull of the author and ask yourself where this might be leading you / what you're supposed to do with what you've found / the answer is not in front of you / To See Your Love Suffer feels large in its specificity / in its exploration of these visions / the text is someone else's body / its intricacies are unknown to the reader / every neural process appears nuanced / yet indecipherable / at this distance Prentice has created something written through the reader's interpretation / each new understanding / the book-body changes / observations mutate the shape of a perceived narrative / the text creates shapes itself through the reader //