Nic Brewer's debut novel
Suture (Book*hug Press) has been an eagerly anticipated fall read at All Lit Up. Checking all the right boxes for a fantastical page-turner, Suture is a visceral novel that blends body horror with meditations on the fractures within us and the cost of art-making. Below, Nic tells us more about her debut novel, "a difficult conversation that I’d like to have with everyone: brains do not always have their bodies’ best interests at heart, and it is hard but it is okay."
Suture is a graphic and horrifying take on the mental and emotional toll of being or loving an artist. It’s gory, set in a universe where artists literally tear themselves open to make their art: visual artist Finn slices her chest open and uses her organs on canvas to create her pieces; her kid takes bones out of their forearms to use as drumsticks; writer Grace hooks herself up to a blood-powered word processor with an IV; and filmmaker Eva pops her eyes out and uses them in a camera to make movies.
It is gory but it is soft, and it is tender, and it is hopeful, and really it is only gory because sometimes it’s hard to be alive, and it hurts to look too closely at all the moving parts of a life. Suture is a hyper-real exploration of what it takes to be human, the tiny cruelties we commit and forgive in ourselves and others, the way it is all too easy to deprioritize what is meaningful in favour of what feels good, the way sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.
Suture is fictional in every sense, yet still traces the outline of the author’s little life carefully: through beginnings, in which you find the thing that makes you tick; through middles, in which it is hard to tell which direction you came from, which direction you are going; through endings, when a path becomes clear again, when the heart settles in the chest, when you discover where home lives; and beyond, through another beginning, another middle, into newness both comfortable and challenging.
I would recommend this book because it is startling, but it is also gentle. It is intended to be a way in, for people who don’t entirely understand mental illness, and a way out, for people whose mental illness has isolated them. I am a person who likes difficult conversations because I like supporting people as they consider challenging subjects in new ways, whether they themselves are the challenging subject, or it is something out in the world. Suture, then, is a difficult conversation that I’d like to have with everyone: brains do not always have their bodies’ best interests at heart, and it is hard but it is okay. We are human, and I love you.
Suture is Black Mirror meets Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
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Nic Brewer is a writer and editor from Toronto. She writes fiction, mostly, which has appeared in Canthius, the Hart House Review, and Hypertrophic Literary, among others. She is the co-founder of Frond, an online literary journal for prose by LGBTQI2SA writers, and formerly co-managed the micropress words(on)pages. She lives in Kitchener, ON, with her partner and her dog. Suture is her first book.
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