Last Friday, Peach featured the experimental poem “Stellium: A Cluster, Or 4 Unanswered Letters From My Father (February 2016-April 2017)” by Jacq Greyja. “Stellium” is a fascinating work, something that allows the reader to interpret and reconfigure Greyja’s deceptively simple text to meet their personal narrative. The entire body of the poem reads as a running tally of words and numbers, presumably culled from the unseen titular “Unanswered Letters.” The most used word is “I.” The least used words are “she,” “son,” “daughter,” and “Mom.” Greyja’s method, forcing the reader to personally sift through the raw material of these “Unanswered Letters,” constructs something extremely personal and deeply devastating. No two readers’ versions of these letters will look the same.
By Jeff Vandermeer
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux / 2014 / novel
Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation is a horror novel presented in the voice presented in the voice of a nature documentary transcript. The book concerns a mysterious region of quarantined swampland, referred to simply as “Area X,” in which a series of deceptively subtle shifts in reality have necessitated increasingly doomed expeditions. Annihilation is written in a calm, detached voice that offers up imagery that is simultaneously beautiful, alien, and terrifying, “The shape spread until it was even where it was not, or should not have been. It seemed now more like a kind of obstacle or wall or thick closed door blocking the stairs. Not a wall of light — gold, blue, green, existing in some other spectrum — but a wall of flesh that resembled light, with sharp, curving elements within it and textures like ice when it has frozen from flowing water. An impression of living things lazily floating in the air around it like soft tadpoles.” Vandermeer also uses small, surprisingly effective inversions in simple nomenclature to put the reader in a state of unease, such as the eerie tunnel at the heart of the narrative that the central character refuses to refer to as anything other than as a “tower.”
Annihilation is the first installment in a trilogy of books, but the way in which the vaguely Lovecraftian nature of Vandermeer’s prose and the surprisingly effective love story around the novel’s periphery coalesce, make it a self-contained and wholly unpredictable beast all its own
“Peach Picks” is a column of literary news and recommendations written by the editors of Peach Mag, an online literary magazine based in Buffalo. For inquiries, contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.