One Big Self: An Investigation


“[Wright] includes stock-takings of things brought in from outside (‘Count your blessings// Count your stars (lucky or not)// Count your loose change'), haunting prison factoids ("Tennessee's retired chair available on eBay"), possible quotes from prisoners (‘I've always had the willies’) and poetic advice (‘Remember the almighty finger on the wrong-answer button’). Piled one atop another, these verbal shards create a harrowing vamp that is as much a compassionate portrayal of prison life as it is about the fragmentary way anyone comes to know anyone else. Wright gets better with each book, expanding the reach of her art; it seems it could take in anything.”

—Publishers Weekly

“One Big Self is a stunning composite of universal and particular realities—of private loss, private lives, private language and public policy, public enemies, public problems, public institutions. In the contact made between these polarities, the distinction between viewer and viewed, subject and object, is interrogated […] This work is disturbing, and it is meant to disturb. It is haunting, important, creepy, and captivating, proving again that reality is stronger than fiction, that what we do and what we choose to suppress as a culture is far more troubling—and its representation far more revealing—than we could have imagined.”

—Peter Gizzi


Darren Angle