Ella Longpre, How to Keep You Alive, Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Corrao

[Review Guidelines]




How To Keep You Alive is a living creature / I don't really know what else to call it / because it never felt like I was reading what someone wrote / it felt like I was interacting with the text directly / as if there was no author involved / as if the language inside of the book was of its own creation / giving birth to itself //

This book is occupied by / dreams / demons / the devil / prayer / ruin //

Ruin especially / the book spends a lot of time trying to understand the full extent of ruin / everything that it entails / "ruin is duration" / "ruin is transmitted" / desires lie in definition / in order to overcome or accept circumstance / you cannot alleviate ruin if you do not know what it looks like //

There seems to be a physical weight to the language / a page acts as a pool of water, and the words as objects / some of these objects float atop the surface / they touch each other and then begin to drift apart / small particles resting alone / others become heavy and sink to the bottom of the page / I don't think this happens as a result of the weight of the contents / I don't know what gives certain words qualities that others do not have / some part of me thinks that these differences are a reminded or an example / they might be the manifestation of all of the various kinds of physicality that the text is capable of possessing//

How To Keep You Alive is dealing with a type of loss that exists outside of time / where space hosts the convergence of past and present / there are photos scattered throughout the text / they appear at times after a blank page / or after the words on the pages have begun to spread thin / these images feel like resurfacing memories / or a trigger or a post-it note / or proof of existence / they are the only part of this book that feels like a record, and I don't mean this in a bad way / they feel like someone handing you a photo out of a family album / they appear so dense with meaning / books upon themselves / and they add this distant element to the text / maybe that element is a sense of validity or presence / proof of the book speaking to me / of the book being a living creature /and having desires //

"Outside my body: Lamb's blood on a door" / I felt like I was wandering through a dream / not my dream / a dream / this book radiates a strange aura / it made me feel fragile or susceptible / I'm not sure what to / I wanted to call this review "Please do not tear me apart" because this book struck me to the core / or because it felt like some strange kind of psychic encounter / I was interacting with a living creature / a text that is not written, but that simply exists / not a record / the act of living / I've never really encountered a book like How To Keep You Alive / the beauty in its presentation and form is so unique / language that has manifested on the physical plane //