BOOK OF NON
A collaborative hybrid collection by Carol Guess and Rochelle Hurt
Book of Non is a hybrid-genre book that follows the character of NonMom through prose poems and lyric meditations on identity, autonomy, and agency through negation. As a character who is inevitably defined by what she is not, NonMom must continually assert her existence and redefine herself in resistance to heteronormative ideas of gender and sexuality. Like the book's co-authors, NonMom is a queer person searching for meaningful connections in a politically apocalyptic setting as she navigates uncertainties in her dating and family life during a pandemic. At its core, this is a book about finding oneself outside the narrow parameters others have set.
In Book of Non, Carol Guess and Rochelle Hurt transform negation into ferocious queer agency as selves, wants, dangers, and hungers multiply in and around the lyric speaker of the NonMom. In prose poems that make the unit of the sentence feel at once intimate with epistolary tenderness and full of dread reporting harm against vulnerable bodies in a constant unfolding crisis, NonMom rejects cishet definitions and narratives applied to her: “My body is not a statistic….My body is not your meadow….my body will break your teeth.” In rejection of a world that reduces people to “body as fill or be filled,” these poems make the word “not” into a verb, a tool, a love letter, not to absence but to wounds and the mercy so rarely afforded to them. —Kelly Weber, author of We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place & You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis
Cover art by Lydia Ricci
Book of Non is a feminist, collaborative tour de force of our present via negativas, including such hybrid wonders as “Nonfiction,” “Conversation Nonstarters,” and “Non-Memory Foam.” Readers follow the recurring character NonMom through a series of encounters with the pandemic-era zeitgeist. No matter who you are, there’s something here you’ll recognize, something here to move and probe you deeply. Perhaps: “Most evenings now my apologies just sit quietly on the couch with me like non-apologies. It’s getting late, I say, and they crochet themselves into a nightgown big enough to drown in.” Carol Guess and Rochelle Hurt have composed a symphony; their instruments include lyric, narrative, meditation, and critique. —Julie Marie Wade, author of The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose with Denise Duhamel & Telephone: Essays in Two Voices with Brenda Miller
Book of Non is restless and raucous, randy and ready to wrestle. The book follows NonMom, but follows is too tame a word. Guess and Hurt pervert and unsettle form and perspective and the very foundation of language itself, so we’re not following NonMom—we chase, spelunk and get flung off wild horses. Both life-changing events like divorce and cross-country moves or everyday acts like texting her mom and first dates become unsettling adventures: “NonMom registers plenty of Me Time. Or maybe Me Too Time. It’s getting hard to tell the difference between a manicured hand and a bloody handprint.” This collection will bring to light what terrifies you about your fragile, horny human body and bring you into a collective voice that empowers you to confront the world more boldly. —Eric Tran, author of The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer & Mouth, Sugar, and Smoke