Essays / Criticism

Carol Guess - My Father in Water


Carol Guess - My Father in Water

Paperback, 90pp, 8.5x5.5ins 
Download a PDF sampler from this book here.

"My father hovers in the aperture of a glistening window' suicide botched by his mother's ghost. Numbers from his slide rule pause on the sill, fallen by chance into a brilliant formula."


This interlinked collection of lyric essays documents Carol Guess's relationship to her father, a brilliant scientist whose intensity and eccentricity shaped family life in humorous and often lonely ways. In musical prose, writing as a poet, teacher, and queer activist, Guess describes a life lived in service to language. At once accessible and enigmatic, funny and somber' My Father in Water is a haunting examination of the impact of family history on one artist's journey.

"In her mesmerizing essay collection, My Father in Water, Carol Guess explores desire in its myriad forms. 'To name a thing is to allow it entry into your world', she observes, and the desire to name and to know drives this collection with the twin engines of compressed elegance and personal conviction. 'I want to write sentences that involve the body', Guess tells her readers, and this she has done—in a queer poetic kuenstlerroman that inspires us also to 'throw water at things and hope they'll grow.'" —Julie Marie Wade, author of Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures and Small Fires — Essays

"Offering memorials to her past, spliced with mill-town tales of her present, Guess deftly charts what she terms 'the aesthetics of compression.' As they float across regions right now and bodies back then' these essays refuse to distinguish between life and labor, love and loss. Guess proves herself to be—yet again—a consummate recorder of our collective queer heart." —Scott Herring, author of Another Country — Queer Anti-Urbanism

"Ever since reading the blazing brilliance of Carol Guess's aptly titled essay, 'Red,' I have been greedy for more and more of her nonfiction — the kind of greedy that covets new essays and essay collections. My Father in Water is a dream — a compilation of essays that reflects Guess's extraordinary range, as a memoirist, a philosopher, a teacher, a recorder without parallel of queer identity in the 21st century. From our first vision of the author as a small child, 'white-blonde, sun-slashed… sitting in a cabinet marked Radioactive' to the vision of her in the final title essay, a woman for whom 'no mouth is as dangerous as mine,' we are caught in a performance of miraculously charged words enacting rescue — rescue of the artist herself' of her lover, of we the readers. It is a breathtaking high-wire act of unstoppable resonance and beauty." —Susanne Antonetta, author of Body Toxic and A Mind Apart — Travels in a Neurodiverse World  


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