Novel by Popahna Brandes
“And then later, or now, I believe that in the last position, we don’t want to be categorized according to something we feel no association with and it’s only if that name appears as the island in the midst of currents you cannot trust, that it will do. An unknown. It’s waiting. Every name has a history, doesn’t it? And when I think of a name, I think of a cave. Every name is I.”
“Popahna Brandes has written a lyrical, charmed novel of experimentalists whose projects are as elusive as their relationships and identities. In an I is finely grained at every scale, a beautifully curved and mysterious arc of eddying, poetic narrative.” —Miranda Mellis
“Elegantly wrought, enigmatic, with some beautiful and whimsical formal flourishes, In an I is a book that hovers and resonates long after the last page.” —Carole Maso
In a state-sponsored laboratory for art and life praxes, a guest observer finds herself ineluctably drawn to a participant dedicated to portrayals. Their conversations, which traverse intricate, interconnected vignettes set across Europe, cohere into an enigmatic narrative of violence and betrayal. A broken eye, a glass blower beyond time, the self as a fractured process of documenting and changing by writing again — this lyrical, layered novel explores narrated personal history through the absences that determine it, mining the caves beneath every clause in which “something untold takes place and everything thereafter is changed.”
“By attempting to toe the line between Ila's story and the narrator's attempts to draw it out, Brandes compellingly explores the social bonds of these women that are firmed by narrative conveyance and its processes. This includes those bonds that are touched by violence, namely the horrible secret Ila keeps to herself until it is uncovered by the narrator, as well as the artist's insistence to not explain or fully reveal the truth as a sort of private penance beyond the confines of art.” —Forrest Roth, The Collagist
Cover art by Hyuro
Popahna Brandes’s publications include Reading Tests (Jan Van Eyck Academie), a collaboration with Jack Henrie Fisher and a constant machinic interlocutor; The Sea In Me or The Riddle We Heard (a chapbook from The Corresponding Society); and her translations can be found in Theory, A Sunday (Belladonna*). She lives in Chicago.