The Luminol Reels

Laura Ellen Joyce
Calamari Press ($13)

luminolreelsA deeply disturbing collection of experimental prose-poems, The Luminol Reels addresses topics which many would prefer went undiscussed. Set in a nightmarishly psychedelic landscape replete with hallucinogenic gore, the work is evocative of a horrifying dream. The loose narrative is comprised largely of violence committed against a pack of living-dead “imprisoned, hospitalized or housebound” girls, with events taking place in a maquiladora-cum-juvenile detention facility in which to be born female is to be born dead—the language used to describe menstruation, sex, and birth is indistinguishable from that of death, purification, and decay. The most painful aspect of this extraordinarily uncomfortable book is not its joyless Technicolor carnage, but its verisimilitude: from the degradation of the female body across time, place, and culture to Catholicism’s bizarre and destructive deification and demonization of women, all of misogyny’s crises are here. Moreover, the book lacks even the comfort of anger—there’s no call for social justice or feminist action to instill some modicum of hope that something can be done. The Luminol Reels is everything that political-experimental writing should be: challenging, visceral, timely, and uncompromising. However, as the global struggle over female bodily control appears to edge closer to a literal war each day, many will find the book’s ugliness too apropos to enjoy. Author Laura Ellen Joyce offers one outlet: “If you wish (for relief), you may scream.”

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