Not a Place on Any Map
Not a Place on Any Map, winner of the 2016 Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Award, explores the switch-backing emotional terrain of traumas and triumphs, as well as the disparate landscapes where they unfold. In rich, evocative snapshots of Chicago, the desert Southwest, California, New England, and Texas, the book traces a peripatetic childhood shaped by loss and dislocation that tumbles into an early adulthood spent chasing excitement from coast to coast and abroad. After being raped in Italy on her first trip to Europe at twenty-five, the author goes adrift in despair from which only drugs and alcohol provide escape. The flash lyric essays in this debut collection pursue a lost sense of self and home after trauma, but as the author discovers, home is not a place marked neatly on any map. Reaching recovery takes years and detours through depression, blurred landscapes, rehab, and jail. Ultimately, the book maps not home at all, but a truer place, one made all the sweeter for having travelled so far to find it.
- Paperback | 88 pages
- 111 x 178 x 5mm | 73g
- 05 Dec 2016
- Vine Leaves Press
- Illustrations, black and white
"A series of prose vignettes, Not a Place on Any Map, explores departures and arrivals, moments when the writer's past opens up into illumination or essence, into an internal emotional landscape answering or echoing or at odds with the world around her. The writing pulls you in like mesmerizing fiction or a well-crafted memoir and then holds you with the brilliant poetry of its prose.Paige's wayward and peripatetic past threads through New England, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, and Italy, in a journey where she navigates through family breakdowns, addiction and a DWI, the Harris County Jail, hard reassessments of recovery, and her life as a writer and teacher.This is powerful and insightful work, filled with moments of beauty and forgiveness worthy of the journeys which led to its creation." DAVID MURA, AUTHOR OF TURNING JAPANESE, A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR AND WINNER OF THE PEN OAKLAND JOSEPHINE MILES LITERARY AWARD *** "The title of this masterful collection of prose vignettes says it all: what Alexis Paige is trying to map is not a place at all but a state of mind affected by drug and alcohol abuse, 'that liminal no-place between the dead and the living.' If there is redemption here, it is not heroic or even celebration-worthy because Paige doesn't ask us to lament her stumbles or to salute her triumphs. The writing itself-superbly crafted-demands that we pay attention instead to the small labors that might finally lead any of us away from precariously bad choices. Compassionate and clear-eyed, Paige also immerses us in the social and racial injustices that can, in the end, make even those laborious choices futile. At times startlingly poetic about the crude and matter of fact about the breath-taking, Paige manages tone with such deftness we end up more interested in how she thinks than in what she does. She is, in other words, more than a survivor of dangerously hard times; she is a writer to be heralded." BARBARA HURD, WINNER OF THREE PUSHCART PRIZES, AND 2015 GUGGENHEIM FELLOW *** "'To be so excruciatingly alive is what hurts, ' Alexis Paige tells us as she attempts both to breathe in the San Francisco night air and make a step toward stability and healing. The reader takes the place next to her there and in each of these brief, vivid, solid essays recalling a broken childhood home, or a hard leaning on alcohol and drugs, or the trauma of rape, or the devastation of arrest and incarceration. One cannot read these pages without thanking the author for delving so deeply and honestly into to the North, South, East and West of rough years endured, and for grabbing for a handhold of the hard-won strength that has carried her to a place of recovery and gratitude." SUZANNE STREMPEK SHEA, WINNER OF THE NEW ENGLAND BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION *** "I suppose all our lives could be considered rich and full of incident, but if we are going to persist in sharing them, how we document them matters. Paige writes of Seurat, 'the way you have to pull back to see the shape of the thing.' From magnificent magnification in 'America, Allegory, 2015, ' or in the beached-glass smoothness of a tiny elixir bottle washed ashore after a flood, Paige's lens is nimble. We have always had the vignette form, that quick gesture, for sparing us all that is unnecessary. There is not a gratuitous moment in Not a Place on Any Map, not one extra syllable. It is a specific skill, this paring, a surgeon's deft talent, leaving the reader only the most vital of cells. Every cell connected to its counterpart, fore and aft." NINA GABY, EDITOR OF DUMPED: STORIES OF WOMEN UNFRIENDING WOMEN"