Victoria Chang's Dear Memory grapples with the nature of memory and how one bears the personal traumas of those that came before. Using a collection of ephemera left by her mother as a point of departure, the accomplished poet frames letters to intimates as a way to navigate her own grief and explore memories of what shaped her sense of self while growing up. While the papers left behind by Chang's mother are a record of past events, Chang's letters demonstrate how their effects continue to resonate--across time, oceans, and through generations. Imaginatively creating a conversation between past and present, Chang fills in gaps and asks what it means to truly know oneself through one's own history.
After World War II, many countries that had lived under the shadow of colonialism longed to rebuild and strengthen themselves with their newfound autonomy. While the Cold War intensified, Third World countries were optimistic as they solidified bonds amongst each other, ready for a new future. Juxtaposing personal narratives with the violent events that occurred in Jakarta--a swift and bloody annihilation of suspected communists that resulted in the deaths of an estimated one million Indonesians--Bevins recounts how that initial post-war optimism clashed with the US's violent suppression of such dreams in their quest to end communism. The scorched earth approach extended to Latin America, and Bevins emphasizes that when America wasn't directly involved in the killings, they installed governments that were. A chilling portrait of a little-known chapter in America’s violent history, Bevin's study holds the imperial war machine to account and wonders if its cost to human life was worth it.
Taking readers on an intimate journey of her early adulthood--one that covers the actual ground from Taos to Paris to New Mexico--Pham's stellar essays put sensitivity front and center. In a generous weaving of literary theory, art history, and the narrative of her own heartbreak, Pham tempers the cerebral with her deep empathy and masterful storytelling that doesn't just explore themes of desire and longing, but that, like any good pop song, immerses us in the unreserved heart of her emotions. This collection is an album you'll want to return to again and again