Becoming Abigail (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
From the crackling opening lines to the final, quiet image, Becoming Abigail blends language and style to transcend traditional genres of writing. Though the book is a story in novella form, the chapters are a series of prose poems rich with image and cadence from the hand of experienced poet Chris Abani. The narrator moves the reader through Abigail’s story, alternating between times delineated by the chapter headings “Now” and “Then.” The form of the novella sets up one of the most important dynamics of the story, which is that this is a difficult and painful story to tell. The plot and the content are too expansive for a short story; however, to place the character of Abigail within the vastness of a novel would mean to lose her.
When the novella begins, Abigail is inside the memory of her mother’s funeral, which she attended as an infant but she remembers as though she were already an adolescent. She is aware even as she remembers that this memory is partly the fabrication of her imagination influenced by her father’s depression. Abigail’s story is, to a great extent, the exploration of the contingency of memory. In the “Now” sections, Abigail is standing alone, smoking cigarettes in the cold night air. She remembers all the events that led her to where she currently stands. She relies upon all of her senses, particularly her sense of touch, to evoke in her mind what is written on her body. For Abigail, knowledge is far...
(The entire section is 1520 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, no. 13 (March 1, 2006): 60.
Essence 37, no. 1 (May, 2006): 85.
Library Journal 131, no. 2 (February 1, 2006): 68.
Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2006, p. 10.
The Nation 283, no. 1 (July 3, 2006): 36.
The New York Times 155 (March 19, 2006): 11.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 2 (January 9, 2006): 30-31.
(The entire section is 29 words.)