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JULY 29, 2012
A Book We Love: Continuous Frieze Bordering Red
Every once in a while, you pick up a book that redefines what it means to read. Michelle Naka Pierce’s Continuous Frieze Bordering Red is one such book. Written as a meditation on Mark Rothko’s Seagram murals, Pierce takes artist Mark Rothko’s notion of floating borders (in which colors within the painting friezeare layered in such a way that it’s difficult to tell the exact point where one color begins and the other ends) and she applies this to the unstable cultural boundaries that accompany being a racially-mixed person in America (Pierce is a Japanese-American whose mother emigrated to the US after the Second World War). When reading this book, you instantly notice that the lines of text run into the gutter of the book, and up the next page. In other words, you read the first line on page 1, then the first line on page 2, and proceed all the way to the end of the book; then you return to the very first page and read the second line all the way to the end of the book, and then the third line, and so on. In this way, the text of the book functions like an architectural frieze, which appears at the very top of a building and extends all the way around it, until the building is encircled. A beautiful and salient book, Continuous Frieze Bordering Red does for poetry what James Joyce’s Ulysses did for fiction: it uses an unorthodox style of writing to lend nuance to complex societal issues that are all too often oversimplified and misunderstood.


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posted by Chris, Belmar Library


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