Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: Tara Hardy's My, My, My, My, My,

Last month I went to the the book release for My, My, My, My, My, and I was completely blown away by Tara Hardy's performance of her works and by her immense generosity with us as an audience. Her warmth engulfed us. And since then it's taken me a month to read through her book. Yes, because life is busy (graduated from my MFA program and all so woo hoo), but also because the 124 page book of confessional and musical poetry and prose is huge and magical. We're talking a freaking Tardis of a book here people.

Let me explain. To me, the most remarkable trait of My, My, My, My, My, is its cohesive tone. It maintains this unity of voice despite the wide range of themes and topics and especially despite Hardy's diverse use of poetic and prosaic forms and approaches. These potentially disparate elements are held together in part by the repetition of motifs and scenes. The recurrence of a scene between a spider and a ladybug, and the refrain of a lilac tree named Miss Lady offered solid welcoming footholds and echoed the harsher but similarly steady echoes and monotonous repetitions of what it is to live with illness or what it is to live with your trauma always in you.

What cements the cohesion of My, My, My, My, My, as miraculous, what gives it its strange magic is that it is held together through deep dives into many and particularly heavy topics. This book is not a simple book. It is not an "easy" read. In the month it took me to read it, I had to put it down several times because it struck me so strongly. I know it's corny and I don't care: It brought me to tears on multiple occasions and made me laugh out loud alone in my bedroom and once while on the train to the airport. My, My, My, My, My, is a book about growing up, it's about body, it's about divorce, it's about getting sick and getting sicker and fearing death until that fear becomes as familiar as the feel of a butterknife in your hand, it's about abuse and incest, it's about the saving grace of a dog's face, it's about survival and it's also a guide for how to survive and how to revel in this sharp glinting gift of life.

My, My, My, My, My, is not a book about balance, it is balance incarnate. It embodies the deeply shifting struggle and triumph of staying alive. The specifics of Hardy's life will draw you in but it is her alchemically balanced mode of storytelling that will invite you and your own struggles and triumphs into the book. Hardy's gift in My, My, My, My, My, is the pocket she opens for the reader to crawl into. When you finish My, My, My, My, My, the book, and everything in it will belong to you completely. And also you will belong more to yourself.