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In Daughter, a daughter/doctor encounters the dead body of an octopus in the desert, perhaps the corpse of a lost god, and through her study of his physical organs, sheds more light on her relationship with the world at large. What is it like to be a daughter? What is it like to be God?, the text asks, intuiting implications of the consciousness of God and of the hermetic vessel that is narrative itself, while revealing the sanctity of living, the unholy holiness of strange encounters, and the hidden mysticism of language.
Janice Lee’s lyrical novel, Daughter, was a finalist in the Plonsker Prize sponsored by Lake Forest Press.
“This is a story about an excavation. This is a story about a daughter and an octopus. But that seems obvious. This is a story about a daughter and the body of a dead octopus in the desert. The body may be that of a dead god, and the daughter intends to shed some light on the situation.”
– excerpt from Daughter
“Janice Lee is a genius!”
Lee’s surgical cadences and sharp fragments work here as writing will work—to force attention to detail. Which is the unnatural order of things.
Daughter is quantum. There is a girl, there is an octopus, there is language — in minimal bursts of physical intensities, their magnitude measured in intimate discretes. Janice Lee’s prose is energy transfer of the elementary particles of the matter of language. There is a girl, there is an octopus, there is language, understood at the infinitesimal level. No other book ever written has entered my body and being so physically pure. There is not distance between the state of narrative and the matter of being. I turn the page of her body.
In Daughter, Janice Lee floods the body of a book with the body of a body, all its hybrid, constantly damaging and mending cells. From field to field among the pages we are subject to a brain-damaged, collide-o-scopic file of some internet-age Acker’d Frankenstein having lived to see god die; and yet still must go on walking in the deity’s corpse, inside of which the billion bodies in such image have built our huts of shit and shit inside them. “The sea is a mysterious force, but there is no sea in the desert,” she writes, prodding at the hole left in the fabric on the earth between the homes: another phantom in a field of phantoms who themselves have again died. The result is a meticulous and terrifying resurrection, a glitchy screamtext passed in dire silence to the reader the way blood passes from mother into child.
“Daughter, the new volume by Janice Lee, seems to rise as intuitive quantum ascent. It is praxis of the marred, of the seemingly uneven. Janice Lee understands that writing can not exist as narrative outcome. In Daughter there is reckoning with the cosmos as phantom, as something which does and does not exist. Energies appear by means of paradox and evaporation. The lineage between Daughter and the oneiric octopus in the desert feeds no time line or approach. Both appear as one. They exchange themselves, and then appear as a-lit in suspension.”