Aug 9 - Fog
A Paris Review Staff Pick, one of Chicago Tribune's 25 Hot Books of Summer, and one of The A.V. Club's 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2019A stark, elegiac account of unexpected pleasures and the progress of seasonsFifteen years ago, Kathryn Scanlan found a stranger's five-year diary at an estate auction in a small town in Illinois. The owner of the diary was eighty-six years old when she began recording the details of her life in the small book, a gift from her daughter and son-in-law. The diary was falling apart--water-stained and illegible in places--but magnetic to Scanlan nonetheless.After reading and rereading the diary, studying and dissecting it, for the next fifteen years she played with the sentences that caught her attention, cutting, editing, arranging, and rearranging them into the composition that became Aug 9--Fog (she chose the title from a note that was tucked into the diary). "Sure grand out," the diarist writes. "That puzzle a humdinger," she says, followed by, "A letter from Lloyd saying John died the 16th." An entire state of mourning reveals itself in "2 canned hams." The result of Scanlan's collaging is an utterly compelling, deeply moving meditation on life and death.In Aug 9--Fog, Scanlan's spare, minimalist approach has a maximal emotional effect, remaining with the reader long after the book ends. It is an unclassifiable work from a visionary young writer and artist--a singular portrait of a life revealed by revision and restraint.

Aug 9 - Fog Details

TitleAug 9 - Fog
Author
ReleaseJun 4th, 2019
PublisherMCD
ISBN-139780374106874
Rating
GenrePoetry, Fiction

Aug 9 - Fog Review

  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    This isn’t really a book, is it? Not in a way that someone would spend money on it, surely. Technically, yes, it’s formatted and published as a book, but realistically speaking it is 128 pages I was easily able to read in just under 15 minutes. This is beyond spare, beyond minimalistic, beyond bare bones even. It might work as a poetry volume, possibly, although it’s sparse even by those standards. Mood wise, again, might work for poetry. Otherwise, possibly, an experiment. But it doesn’t offer This isn’t really a book, is it? Not in a way that someone would spend money on it, surely. Technically, yes, it’s formatted and published as a book, but realistically speaking it is 128 pages I was easily able to read in just under 15 minutes. This is beyond spare, beyond minimalistic, beyond bare bones even. It might work as a poetry volume, possibly, although it’s sparse even by those standards. Mood wise, again, might work for poetry. Otherwise, possibly, an experiment. But it doesn’t offer much to go on. This is essentially an old diary of an old woman that covers 1968 to 1972 in the least amount of words and details possible, mostly chronicling old age and the general winding down of life. Not only is there not really enough for a semblance of a coherent narrative, there is barely enough to evoke any sort of engagement. Maybe this is why diaries are meant to be private things intended for their owners only. Definitely didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s something for fans of poetry and flash fiction. But seriously…no book this size should be read in 15 minutes. Maybe I’m too much of a traditionalist. The book has some rave reviews, possibly from diarists or readers of the diaries of others. Concept fiction, like concept cuisine, essentially insubstantial. And in this case mainly sad. But really, it’s a privacy violation at best. Pass. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Paris (parisperusing)
    January 1, 1970
    "Ever where glare of ice. We didn'tsleep too good. My pep has left me.D. & I out to cemetery towardevening. Flowers frozen. We arealone tonite."Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9—Fog is a rearrangement of sentences taken from a stranger’s diary she found at an estate auction 15 years ago. Its author is an 86-year-old woman whose annals sweep five years — 1968 to 1972 — and five seasons. From what I deduced of the language, the speaker — let’s call her Joan — is a black woman. I sensed this from the use "Ever where glare of ice. We didn'tsleep too good. My pep has left me.D. & I out to cemetery towardevening. Flowers frozen. We arealone tonite."Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9—Fog is a rearrangement of sentences taken from a stranger’s diary she found at an estate auction 15 years ago. Its author is an 86-year-old woman whose annals sweep five years — 1968 to 1972 — and five seasons. From what I deduced of the language, the speaker — let’s call her Joan — is a black woman. I sensed this from the use of African-American English — and also because our diction has an arcane, but distinct sound.In pages of stanzas, we learn Joan, her friends, and loved ones are either unwell or in some state of danger or grief. Someone named Emma “didn’t get home”; Bayard is caught “living in the past”; Linda “had car accident”; Stella’s had things “taken, mostly antiques”; Ruth, fortunately, “came thru operation”; “Lightning hit & burned Charlie’s garage” — these spare glimpses speak to the perilous limbo of a black lower class. Poor health, trepidation, and pain begat by old age are sufferings Joan tries to evade with art and nature before the chapter of her own life comes to an end.Some may not understand Aug 9—Fog nor be stoic enough to decipher its mad glamour — and it will be a shame because that is its charm. What Scanlan has done is give voice to a life that would have otherwise left silently. A life of a friend, of a stranger, of someone who is both dying to live and dying for a silver lining. The very haunt of Aug 9—Fog concerns the ways death finds us when we are most feeble, and here, death is an onslaught of maladies.In a very eerie way, this book’s polarizing nature reminded me so much of The Incest Diary — which is the most controversial story I’ve ever read and enjoyed. After witnessing what Scanlan has performed given so little material, I’m as anxious as ever to see what she does with her new collection next year. (Thank you, FSG, for gifting me this beautiful sphinx of a book; it certainly sunk its fangs in me.)
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    A small, quiet experiment about a life lived. Day to day, storm to storm, death to death. A special artifact. I look forward to Scanlan's collection of brilliant short fiction!
  • Christopher
    January 1, 1970
    Glad there’s room in the world for something like this. Quiet and small, but beautiful. A perfectly titled experience.
  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    2.5- this was such a smart intriguing idea and it was executed somewhat well for me but still left me desiring a little more. I think some will find what the book is telling and that’s amazing because it truly is a great swift little read but I was personally not a great fan of it, it’s so short and compact maybe I’ll revisit it in the future. Don’t be discouraged by my review not all books are for all people!
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    What a bizarre little book! I enjoyed it very much, and even started to feel for the characters. The voice of the original writer still comes through.
  • Ema
    January 1, 1970
    This is gorgeous.
  • Ben Niespodziany
    January 1, 1970
    This book just wrecked me. Throughout the reading, I found myself jotting down ideas and fragments for my own pieces of flash/poetry. The ending! So minimal and timeless and surreal and moving. Makes you want to walk outside and write about the weather. Unlike anything I've read. Can't wait to read it again once I have the physical copy. Wow.
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  • Paperback Paris
    January 1, 1970
    —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor-in-Chief, Paris Close. Read more.Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9—Fog is a rearrangement of sentences taken from a stranger’s diary she found at an estate auction 15 years ago. Its author is an 86-year-old woman whose annals sweep five years — 1968 to 1972 — and five seasons. From what I deduced of the language, the speaker — let’s call her Joan — is a black woman. I sensed this from the use of African-American English — and also because our dictio —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor-in-Chief, Paris Close. Read more.Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9—Fog is a rearrangement of sentences taken from a stranger’s diary she found at an estate auction 15 years ago. Its author is an 86-year-old woman whose annals sweep five years — 1968 to 1972 — and five seasons. From what I deduced of the language, the speaker — let’s call her Joan — is a black woman. I sensed this from the use of African-American English — and also because our diction has an arcane, but distinct sound.In pages of stanzas, we learn Joan, her friends, and loved ones are either unwell or in some state of danger or grief. Someone named Emma “didn’t get home”; Bayard is caught “living in the past”; Linda “had car accident”; Stella’s had things “taken, mostly antiques”; Ruth, fortunately, “came thru operation”; “Lightning hit & burned Charlie’s garage” — these spare glimpses speak to the perilous limbo of a black lower class. Poor health, trepidation, and pain begat by old age are sufferings Joan tries to evade with art and nature before the chapter of her own life comes to an end.One of the most poignant passages arrives toward the book's final pages, as winter draws out the last of Joan's hope for another beautiful day to break through the fog of darkness around her. It is at this moment that nature — which has always appeared to be a source of comfort for Joan — begins to betray and abandon her:Ever where glare of ice. We didn'tsleep too good. My pep has left me.D. & I out to cemetery towardevening. Flowers frozen. We arealone tonite.excerpt from Kathryn Scanlan's Aug 9—FogSome may not understand Aug 9—Fog nor be stoic enough to decipher its mad glamour — and it will be a shame because that is its charm. What Scanlan has done is give voice to a life that would have otherwise left silently. A life of a friend, of a stranger, of someone who is both dying to live and dying for a silver lining. The very haunt of Aug 9—Fog concerns the ways death finds us when we are most feeble, and here, death is an onslaught of maladies.In a very eerie way, this book’s polarizing nature reminded me so much of The Incest Diary — which is the most controversial story I’ve ever read and enjoyed. After witnessing what Scanlan has performed given so little material, I’m as anxious as ever to see what she does with her new collection next year.
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  • Sophie
    January 1, 1970
    I genuinely don't know what to feel about this book. In a way, I absolutely loved this. The idea for this project is the kind of thing I've always wanted to do. I accumulate similar odd antiques and curiosities and I think there's something sacred and fascinating about the ordinary parts of someone else's life. I don't know that this quite makes an $18.00 fabric fiction hardcover. It seems so much more like poetry. But that would be injecting poetry where it wasn't meant. All I really know is th I genuinely don't know what to feel about this book. In a way, I absolutely loved this. The idea for this project is the kind of thing I've always wanted to do. I accumulate similar odd antiques and curiosities and I think there's something sacred and fascinating about the ordinary parts of someone else's life. I don't know that this quite makes an $18.00 fabric fiction hardcover. It seems so much more like poetry. But that would be injecting poetry where it wasn't meant. All I really know is that, weirdly, it worked.
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  • Pedro
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this book. I really did! I like the writer’s original work - I’m still totally anticipating her short story collection, The Dominant Animal - but I felt I was missing something with this short book. Maybe it’s the style, the sparse content that is given in each page? It’s minimalism, for sure. I’m going to revisit this one and hopefully it’s just a mood thing and a rereading of it will do the trick. I’m hopeful.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    I think it's actually a 3.5, but this is one of those things where I think the reader must be in the right mood for it to work. It's basically just some excerpts of an old woman's diary over 5 years -- is it fiction? is it some woman's actual diary? is it both? -- and while there are a few strong moments (esp. the end), it never felt like more than a trifle to me.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    This isn't a novel, it isn't a novella, it isn't a lot of things. This is short and reads more like poetry than anything else. Thanks to net galley for the ARC. It's an interesting conceit to take someone else's writing and "collage it" to make it "your own" but it comes out more as an art project than literature.
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  • Lisa Allarid
    January 1, 1970
    This is a compilation of some pages taken from a diary that was bought at an auction by the author. The owner of the diary was 86 years old when she began writing in it. It's pretty random information about her day. The way she writes is interesting, kind of here and there about what happens throughout her days and nights. Very charming read.
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  • Jax
    January 1, 1970
    This is 3.5-4 probably for me right now. It’s a very short, quick read that I want to come back to. Even as I was reading it I could feel why the author said she couldn’t stop returning to the woman’s diary. It really was oddly compelling.
  • Jean
    January 1, 1970
    My writeup of Aug 9—Fog, by Kathryn Scanlan, is at Ron Slate's On the Seawall http://www.ronslate.com/on-aug-9-fog-...
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    My work gives me a soft spot for ordinary diaries of ordinary people—this was perfect.
  • Kyle
    January 1, 1970
    What a marvelous little weird thing, damn.
  • Rhiannon Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    *review in progress*
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