KIND MIRRORS, UGLY GHOSTS
by Claire Donato
4 7/8 x 7 in.
The first major book from a longtime legend in underground literature.
“Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts is why I want to read. There are few books at all that expand the exploration of family, outsider sex, animal love, therapy and surreal vision and even fewer writers who do it as well as Claire Donato. My mind and heart are thankfully changed forever.”
—JAMIE STEWART of Xiu Xiu and author of Anything That Moves
—CHELSEA HODSON, author of Tonight I’m Someone Else
“Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts moves and feels like a novel of ideas, yes, but also a lookbook of Rorshachs; a concept cookbook for famished phantoms; a fragmentary tour de force a la Duras. On every page, it lines the mind with vibrant space, as extraordinary in its candor about desire, artifice, and intimacy as it is with wordplay, wit, and social theory. “Death is a mirror of time, and life is not as heavy as it seems,” Donato writes, beckoning us forward through the void of realism as might an imaginary friend we thought we’d lost—or should I say ‘guardian angel’?”
—BLAKE BUTLER, author of Molly
—MOLLY SODA, artist
—JAMIESON WEBSTER, psychoanalyst and author
In the disquieting stories of Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts, a fractaled Claire Donato contemplates grief and disgust in heterosexuality, deconstructing the romance myth and the illicit fantasies which reflect our haunted selves. These fictions are populated with Lynchian characters, draped in memory and the subconscious mind, who imagine their way out of the painful limits of their world: a turtle retreats into its shell and becomes a real girl. A porn addict turns into a baby boy in the arms of his barren cyber-girlfriend. And a digitally-marred depressive joins forces with the ghost of Simone Weil to kill a chicken.
Donato’s fictions are precise and cutting, seamlessly integrating a vast knowledge of art through sharp criticism and a history of cult traditions: Donnie Darko, Wings of Desire, Daisies, and Twin Peaks and artists including Clarice Lispector, M.F.K. Fisher, Sibylle Baier, and The Velvet Underground.
Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts concludes with “Gravity and Grace, the Chicken and the Egg, or: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”, a novella-in-vignettes that frames cooking as an entrypoint to light, awareness, and connection. With associative lyricism and a preternatural ability to gaze into the void with tenderness, Donato relays an indescribably strange perception of our world, in which maniacal grief turns to a gleeful protest before becoming, against all odds, a love letter to what remains.
Contact Paper, 1980
© the Jimmy DeSana Trust
Courtesy of the Jimmy DeSana Trust and P·P·O·W, New York