The Bruise by Magdalena Zurawski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Early in this novel the main character M--- is in a writing class where the prof delivers the old (not untrue) canard that stories need something to "really" happen in them, not simply possess the potential for something to happen. Zurawski tests this truism in a novel composed as the experience of a single consciousness over a period of time. M--- possesses something like an Autism of Pure Feeling, although I don't want that label to make her seem merely strange, when in fact what she's going through will be recognizable to anyone who has tested the limits of imagination and found the boundaries blur. The story stays so deep in M---'s consciousness the people surrounding her -- although she seems more or less like a regularly social college student -- seem not to exist. Or to exist only in her imagination. Which of course they do, although that doesn't settle the question of their "reality" or lack of it. With so many (all?) stories from the publishing industry built to be movie-ready packages of plot, it comes as a relief to read a novel that confronts its own existence as imagination, the active ground between reality and fantasy. What a joy to encounter a novel that is composed of words, and could only exist as words. If a movie were to be made of The Bruise it would have to translate all the activity from words to images; it would have to be something else. It is a brilliant, moving, sympathetic take on the coming-of-age of the imagination as a coming-into-selfhood.
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