Lament for Julia

Susan Taubes


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The New York Review of Books, Inc
6 June 2023
ISBN: 9781681376943
240 pages

From the publisher

This tantalizing and surprising posthumous novella from Taubes (Divorcing), who died in 1969, is presented here with several of her short stories, all hovering around similar themes of isolation, entrapment, and confused connection.

The novella follows Julia Klopps from her lonely childhood among the remnants of genteel poverty in a big house with her parents, up through her years of young motherhood in her 30s, all observed and narrated at close quarters by a genderless narrator who has been with Julia for all of her life. It’s unclear who this companion is—“Was I her servant or her master then? Parent, lover, or friend? All.” As Julia carries the spirit with her throughout her life, it passes judgment on her decisions, include an affair she kindles with a man while her husband is away. Taubes brings to life her strange and singular creation with aplomb, and the stories also startle and convince with their outlandish details. In “Medea,” a modern woman reignites the fury of the Greek myth, murdering her children to punish her husband; in the disturbing “Swan,” an analyst commits the men interested in his daughter to an asylum. A dark beauty reigns throughout this worthy collection. (June)