New Books Network

Today, I speak with Hilary Plum. She’s the author of Watchfires (Rescue Press, 2016), which isn’t so much a book as an exploratory biopsy...

Today, I speak with Hilary Plum. She’s the author of Watchfires (Rescue Press, 2016), which isn’t so much a book as an exploratory biopsy of our body politic and our collective psyche. Plum examines our moment at the cellular level—whether that’s a cancerous cell or a terrorist cell—with the aim of understanding what’s happened to us in the Iraq War, in the attacks on 9/11, at the Boston Marathon bombings, or in the time-out-of-time we experience when we suffer from chronic illness. How do we make sense of a global world where drones, autoimmune disease, migrants, suicide, and mass violence all feel interconnected? That’s exactly what Plum sets out to do. In prose as keen and incisive as a scalpel, she locates and exposes the malignancies of our time. She doesn’t offer us a cure—who could?—but she gives us a brilliant diagnoses of how deeply the disease and diseases from which we suffer run.


Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at eric@ericlemay.org.