Book Review : Constance Ann Fitzgerald - Glue (2016)
* Audience Choice for March *
Lazy Fascist Press is the premier venue for unclassifiable fiction in independent publishing. Their catalog is unpredictable, challenging, boundless and consistently great. They're also sometimes mysteriously packaged, making it difficult to understand what they're going to be about until you check out for yourself. I might've overlooked Constance Ann Fitzgerald tiny, almost unnoticeable book Glue if someone hadn't suggested it for March's Audience Choice. The description blurb calls it a book about grief, loss and addiction, which is about 60% of what all books are about. Once again, I'm very happy to have checked out a Lazy Fascist Press book for myself. Always trust that mustache logo on bottom left of the back cover, beautiful people. Because it never disappoints.
Glue is a second-person narrated novella featuring a young woman peeling back the layers of her grief and trauma. She begins with the most recent occurrence, her father's latest motorcycle accident, and starts going back and forth in time from there. She explores the painful circumstances of her mother's death (to another motorcycle accident) and various other trauma which altered her sense of self. Despite what it might seem like, Glue is not a public service announcement on the dangers of motorcycle driving. It's a book that documents the emotional tragedy of losing loved ones. Fitzgerald confessed the book was autobiographical in an interview, yet she's pretty transparent about that from the get-go by dedicating the it to her parents Ray and Pat, the former being the narrator's father's name.
The tough question I need to answer with Glue here is: why should you read it? Grief journals are a dime a dozen on the publishing market. Some have been written by celebrities and championed by mass media, so why should you bother reading this mysteriously packaged book written by someone you don't know from Adam? The quick answer is that it's short. Glue is barely eighty pages long and doesn't dabble in subtlety. It goes right to the heart of the matter with gut-wrenching honesty. It's not a book that tells a story where tragedies happen to the main character. These are straight up journal entries about coping with tragedy and that's what makes it so interesting.
The use of second person narration is key to make Glue stand out. The narrator is technically not talking to you, she's talking to herself. Trying to put distance between herself and the tragic deaths that are consuming her. I didn't know whether Glue was 100% true when I read it, which made me feel uncomfortable because I didn't know whether I should be impressed or moved by Constance Ann Fitzgerald's writing. Being able to distance myself from a book to discuss its aesthetic merits on something else than my personal appreciation is something I take pride into and Glue definitely fucked with that. Its raw power got to me. It's a direct, spare and unflinching little book.
Glue is a literary UFO in the proud tradition of Lazy Fascist Press: it's not a novel, not quite a conventional grief journal. It isn't really fiction either, although the line is a little blurry unless you run a Google search for Constance Ann Fitzgerald. It's the type of book you can (and should) knock down in a single sitting to feel its emotional power without taking a break. This kind of personal, transparent and disarmingly honest writing always works a number on me and shrewd stylistic choices Fitzgerald made for this book only made it even more powerful. Reading about someone else's grief is not everyone's cup of tea, it's kind of situational but the intimacy, the urgency and the honesty of Constance Ann Fitzgerald's Glue made it a success for me. It's the kind of book anyone can appreciate for their each their own reasons.