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Damnation (Success and Failure Series) Paperback – October 1, 2013
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About the Author
Janice Lee is a writer, editor, and scholar living in Los Angeles. She is the author of two books, KEROTAKIS (Dog Horn Press), a multidisciplinary exploration of cyborgs, brains, and the stakes of consciousness, and Daughter (Jaded Ibis), as well as various chapbooks. Lee was selected by John D'Agata as Black Warrior Review's 2011 Nonfiction Grand Prize Winner and currently teaches at California Institute of the Arts.
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Lee's book, though, can not be merely seen through the lens of the apocalypse. Often, in darkly apocalyptic works, humanity gets polarized into stereotyped categories: the hero, the victims, protagonists and antagonists, each pulling away from or pushing towards doom. Yet in Damnation, archetypes are at once constructed and then undermined by the meticulous characterization and recording of each characters' psyches, their innermost longings. The sum of the fears and desires of each is hyper individualized, demonstrating that human emotion can not be reduced to categorizable universals (even the voice of "god" sounds unsure here, imploring in his/her declarations). Lee's careful exhumation of her characters' emotional and psychological trajectories becomes a testament to a certain resilience of the individual... the perseverance of humanity?
No place in this book offers redemption or escape. If even we can't hope, though, we can yet love, or feel. The world may be ending, or worse, continuing on without change like the endless rain (even the elements seem to seek, restless and yearning). And we, though cloaked in darkness, have at least the tenacity to try to relight the lamp before giving in to the darkness and the inevitable wait for the earth to orbit and the night to relent to the haze of yet another rainy day. Although there is possibly no traceable salvation for the characters in Damnation, Lee's perceptive burrowing gaze may salvage them (us) from ruin.