paperback, 120 pages, 5 x 7"
Publication Date: 2010
“We Press Ourselves Plainly is a particularly affecting development in an already virtuosic, Ovidian body of work because it renews and makes newly visible crucial continuities: between Continental and North American Postmodernism, the Nouveau Roman and New Narrative, WWII and Operation Enduring Freedom. From out of agile and Celinian ellipses, Nathalie Stephens creates an asynchronous, transnational ‘discordance…in time,’ a hugely amplified recent past whose familiarity haunts us not as nostalgia but as trauma. Among ‘immaculate and catastrophic’ ruins and lacunae, having forgotten ‘the sentence for behaving,’ the narrator embarks upon an ‘adverse and objectionable’ litany of a history whose abjections yield a kind of nihilistic courage: ‘Hope is for martyrs.’ Given that now ‘even the fictions are fictions,’ Nathalie Stephens puts ‘holes…where there were none’ as a way of underscoring that there’s nothing inevitable about gender or genre or violence, just as ‘What is inevitable is not the war but the language that determines the war.’ As grim as Beckett, as moral as Genet, as seductive as Duras—yet this book moves me like no other.” — Brian Teare