Black Lace_2Details
Publisher : Spuyten Duyvil; 1st Edition
Publication Date : June 15, 2001
ISBN : 9781881471622
Category : Poetry, Novel, Fiction
Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
Paperback : 90 pages
Cover Art : John Hartigan Jr

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Eileen learns to hold to little else than her body, her diary and her daughter’s withering tolerance for a new life made in the streets of 1970’ss Detroit. At the sundown of the post-vietnam war era, an unrelentingly pithy prose style here presides over a dark and wanton voice crying in the wilderness. (Publisher Description)

Black Lace—This notion of pain as a crutch, a sensory nudge, is dark and well-rendered in the novel. Henning sketches her character so clearly that the notion makes sense, seems utterly reasonable in the context of Eileen’s life. The book fails to offer reassurance—life does not get better—and this separates it from other books about women trapped in the institution of marriage. Sadly, perhaps inevitably, Eileen’s trap simply changes form. What separates the two traps is the notion of choice, both sexual and professional. . . . The writing style is stark and matter-of-fact, the pacing quick. Henning’s unflinching portrayal and her compassion create a memorable protagonist, neither heroine nor victim. Perhaps Eileen herself best describes her life as a woman: I know theworld better from this position, the position of a woman left wanting, the erotic and mystical world of marginality. (Camille-Yvette Welsch ForeWord)

Black Lace. Refreshingly, Henning resists happy endings, and instead focuses on the richer material of Eileen’s engagement with her conflicting selves, leaving the outcomes of her trials with identity beyond the last page. . . . complex and heartbreakingly authentic (Thomas Haley, Rain Taxi).

Black Lace. Flirting with Bataille and invoking Kristeva, Barbara Henning plunges her beleaguered protagonist Eileen into the pitch of an existential crisis. — Village Voice, July 4, 2001
Whether she’s writing poetic fiction, prose poems, or work that in other ways explores the connections between poetry and narrative, the clarity and directness of Barbara Henning’s language turns out to be anything other than simple. That’s because the almost crystalline precision of her writing contains a startling suggestiveness; the surface of her language always implies an intensity of feeling and intellect that recognizes the ability of understatement to be more gripping than pyrotechnical virtuosity.   Her novel Black Lace, which takes place in the 1970s Detroit, is a brutal portrait of abandonment and alienation that never once loses a kind of inner quiet and centeredness that may be its most disturbing element. While her recent series of self-produced artist’s chapbooks devote themselves more to a process of healing than of shattering, they retain that same ability to suggest, through a few careful words, the most complicated dynamics of a very human struggle to find life worthwhile.  (Mark Wallace, Introduction to a reading, April 12, 2008, California State University, San Marcos)

Barbara Henning’s Black Lace is clearly written by a poet, but its prose is straight as an arrow. As third person narrator and I, Henning pins the cut-loose characters of this sparse novel against a gray Detroit dropcloth, connecting them through soul sickness, helplesness, and a scary, uncontrollable eroticism. (Charlotte Carter).

Black Lace is a book of ambivalences, shadowy observations and cul-de-sacs, as dreamlikeand harrowing as the fictions of Tillie Olsen and Maurice Blanchot. Barbara Henning’s language is sharp and defiant, as if cut with a stylus. Her Eileen looms out at us, trapped in her sullen self-awareness, wanting everything while reminding us of everything we can’t have. Set in Detroit during the post-Vietnam years, Black Lace has a power of a Depression-era Walker Evan’s photo (Lewis Warsh).


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