Fifty-eight short "histories" in Aurelie Sheehan's Jewelry Box make up the memoir-like collection that holds within it pieces of gold. In a recent Trop review, reviewer Erica Blumenson-Cook looks deep into Sheehan's "histories" and how they relate to memory. "What I discovered was something like finding a box of trinkets and photographs at a stranger's yard sale or attic. There is no way to know if these bits of jewelry, knick-knacks, photographs, letters, and postcards all belonged to one person, or if they all just somehow ended up in the same box. You wonder how they got there and what each object meant to each person whose life it touched. Jewelry Box is a good description of the book in that a jewelry box is just such a collection of artifacts with no apparent context." The review continues, "The effect of fragmentation comes from the lack of context. The stories are not linear. We can't be certain that they all happened to the same one narrator. Some are events that happened in the world, others are internal experiences, thoughts, ideas, or fantasies. It's a box full of the artifacts of a mind ... But isn't that, in essence, what a personal history is? We all have stories. But they don't line up chronologically ... A personal history is a collection of histories. Maybe they do resemble the contents of an old jewelry box more than they do a linear narrative. In that way, maybe Jewelry Box authentically follows the pattern of memory and personal history." Blumenson-Cook also shares what she's taken away most from Sheehan's read: "Jewelry Box and my memory experiment showed me that although memorization has great value, when it comes to the nature of memory, this book had more to teach me about how memories make up our personal histories and our selves ... Many of the stories are relatable and go into private depths not often explored. Sometimes mundane things are fascinating, only because we don't generally dwell on them. And sometimes mundane things, taken out of context, become profound." Click here to read the entire Trop review. To order your own copy of Jewelry Box, visit the BOA Bookstore.
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