The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

At once memoir, history, and long-form personal essay, Nelson's account of the trial to convict her aunt's suspected killer is intelligent, provocative, and heartbreakingly genuine. Haunted by the horrible murder of an aunt she never knew, Nelson examines notions of justice, grief, empathy, and narrative in an attempt to understand both the shocking crime and also its lasting impact on her own life. Brilliant and haunting. --Molly

— From Staff Picks - Molly

April 2016 Indie Next List

“If I could read the work of only one writer for the rest of my life, I think I would be happy to spend the rest of my days in the staggering beauty of Nelson's prose. In The Red Parts, what could have merely been a relatively interesting true crime narrative becomes, instead, a wholly original memoir of pain, history, family, and those bright moments of clarity in a world that, for Nelson, had become so dark. This book asks us to wonder, to be angry, and ultimately to become more human. This is an inescapable, utterly compelling read.”
— Claire Tobin, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI


Late in 2004, Maggie Nelson was looking forward to the publication of her book Jane: A Murder, a narrative in verse about the life and death of her aunt, who had been murdered thirty-five years before. The case remained unsolved, but Jane was assumed to have been the victim of an infamous serial killer in Michigan in 1969.

Then, one November afternoon, Nelson received a call from her mother, who announced that the case had been reopened; a new suspect would be arrested and tried on the basis of a DNA match. Over the months that followed, Nelson found herself attending the trial with her mother and reflecting anew on the aura of dread and fear that hung over her family and childhood--an aura that derived not only from the terrible facts of her aunt's murder but also from her own complicated journey through sisterhood, daughterhood, and girlhood.

The Red Parts is a memoir, an account of a trial, and a provocative essay that interrogates the American obsession with violence and missing white women, and that scrupulously explores the nature of grief, justice, and empathy.

About the Author

Maggie Nelson is a poet, a critic, and the author of several nonfiction books, including The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, and Jane: A Murder. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781555977368
ISBN-10: 1555977367
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 224
Language: English