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Jane Unrue
Life of a Star

Novella, 112 pages, offset, smyth-sewn
ISBN13: 978-1-886224-96-4
original paperback $14



An actress of sorts, a woman recalls her childhood, longs for her absent lover, imagines traveling overseas, and wanders through gardens and galleries of art. Hers is a life meticulously lived, a carefully crafted and rehearsed engagement with a real and imagined world; a search for love and meaning that has left her, in the end, alone.

Unrue’s intricate and intriguing sentences — now one word, now comprising whole paragraphs and interrupting one another — manage to fuse detachment and emotion, heartbreak and humor.

Jane Unrue’s novella The House was published by Burning Deck in 2000; her collection Atlassed was published by Triple Press in 2005; the novella “Dear Mr. Erker” appeared in the final edition of 3rd bed. Jane Unrue, born in Nevada, now lives in Boston and teaches at Harvard.

“Inviting itself to be read as a phantom refinement of the celebrity-autobiography genre, Life of a Star, direly melodic and winsomely elliptical, belongs in that rich vein of contemporary fiction that forgoes narrative overrun, overmuchness of dialogue, and reportorial sprawl, and instead dispenses itself in slivery, pivotal declarations and gleaming summation. It’s a novel cored to the climactics, the crucialities—and it’s entirely a perfection.”

—Gary Lutz, The Believer (June 2010)

Unrue strikes on a narrative drama that is interspersed with ordinary epiphanies, which reveal a life richly lived, but underscored by a quiet, masterful tension. The woman’s triangular connections with the world and her self (when the self she knows is slipping) are utterly intriguing. This is a portrait of a woman entering art and losing herself in it, increasingly unable to find the center of her own emotions. Life of a Star is a book for theorists, art lovers, academics, but mostly general readers who are both grateful and uneasy to find a writer who experiments with blurring the line of art and life.”

— Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Bookslut (June 2010)

“Think of Life of a Star, then, as an illuminated viewfinder, one where parallax, ambiguity, blur, and discontinuity may impede immediate recognition, but one which still impresses through the sheer power of its startling imagery and commanding poetics, its accretion of clues and repetitions. In the end, all of the fragmentary, floating images in Life of a Star finally cohere into an enigmatic portrait of a burned out visionary, an object lesson on the fleetingness of desire, of the perpetuity of pain, on the doubtful, but nevertheless worthwhile, possibility that language may bring meaning to life, or, at the very least, help one to endure its vicissitudes.”

—John Madera, The Brooklyn Rail

“Jane Unrue creates a truly riveting novel that brings new perspective on the woman’s search for love, and so much more. “Life of a Star” is a top pick for literary fiction collections.”

—Midwest Book Review.

“Life of a Star is the story of a woman who uses the craft of acting as a lifestyle choice…[and] ultimately discovers that she desires emotional intimacy and that she absolutely cannot have it. Even as she recalls her life to the faceless reader, she ponders the question, “I wonder if I’m acting now.” It becomes essential, then, to approach the novel as you would a poem, to untether yourself from the presumptions of narrative and allow the sentences to grab you and pull you along like a riptide.”

—Dana Norris, TriQuarterly Online

As usual, Unrue shows us that a straight line or direct stare is always the longest distance between two points we are trying to use to reperer in any real investigation of the world… Unrue's prose is deliciously Lobachevskian like that.… Certain writers can address the erotic with the gravity it requires. Like Marguerite Duras. Or like Jane Unrue in that most recent book. I highly recommend it.”

Willliam Keckler