Home Movie, Nowhere
Author: Julia Madsen
Publisher: New Michigan Press (2021)
In this work, the Heartland is not an inert pastoral surface. It's a worn-out VHS tape you find under the bed. It's the scratching sound of a rat in the wall. Somewhere between C.D. Wright and James Agee, this book wields the tools of documentary and reduces them to their barest elements with a clarity both beautiful and terrifying. Her Iowa is filled with spider sacs, cataracts, pornographic theaters, bottomless mystery, cruel bosses who piss into Mountain Dew bottles. Like any good country poet, Madsen knows that writing pulls you closer to the root while simultaneously dragging you adrift.
Madsen creates a reality where the reader is the director of a world that can sometimes appear to be a dream but perhaps is a life forgotten. Memories layered with rich scenery in an unforgiving landscape clash in the most hurtful of ways. What feels like a small distance between self and land is deceiving. Madsen invites us so far inside we'll never want to leave.