LA Review of Books

Buzzeo’s writing in The Devastation — as in her previous books, For Want and Sound, Face, and What Began Us — is incandescent. Dealing with loss, with the use of language as a healing practice, and with catastrophe (both personal and communal) and its aftermaths, The Devastation has been described as “a literature of encounter,” as well as “lyric exploration[s] of relation and community,” manifesting a “great capacity for openness” at the intersection of “poetics and healing.” In an interview conducted by Bhanu Kapil, Buzzeo demonstrates the degree to which writing is, for her, a mode of survival. Hers is a generative poetics of generosity (enfolding all of generosity’s cognates, including “gender,” “genre,” “generation,” and “gentle”); she approaches truths, passionately and directly, as large philosophical questions.

Much beautiful writing has already greeted the beautiful writing in this book. Critics have praised and paraphrased, grasping the high stakes of the project and casting it in broader contexts. What’s left for me to say? In fact, this “left to say” is the conundrum of the book, but for reasons other than the one I’m facing here. The Devastation confronts both what is “left to say” after dystopian collapse and who is “left to say” — the subject that tells the tale.