The Body An Essay By Jenny Boully

Jenny Boully (born 1976) is the author of The Book of Beginnings and Endings (Sarabande Books, 2007), The Body: An Essay (Slope Editions, 2002 and Essay Press, 2007), and [one love affair]* (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2006). Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as Boston Review,Conjunctions,Puerto del Sol,Seneca Review, and Tarpaulin Sky and has been anthologized in The Next American Essay,The Best American Poetry, and Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. Born in Korat, Thailand and reared in San Antonio, Texas, she has studied at Hollins University and the University of Notre Dame and is currently working on her PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She divides her time between Texas and Brooklyn.[1][2][3]

Boully's first book, The Body, sold out of its first printing [4] and was re-issued by Essay Press[5] in 2007. A groundbreaking use of form, described by American poet and critic Arielle Greenberg as a "text on absence, love, ontology and identity—minus the text," the content of The Body is delivered only in footnotes, while the usual "body" of work is missing. Comparing it to Thalia Field'sPoint and Line, Greenberg praised The Body as "an invigorating new approach to the idea of a text, of fiction, of essay, of poetry collection," signaling a "courageous and thoughtful new voice in literature." [6]

[one love affair]*, Boully's second book, was nominated for five awards and won two (Best Book of New Poetry Published in 2006, and Best Second Book) from Coldfront Magazine.[7] "Through three sections rife with asterisks and superscript roman numerals," using a mixture of fiction, essay, prose poetry, and memoir,[8][one love affair]* "challenges the ways in which we construct narratives and read texts," [9] as it "wends a story of broken relationships, deploying everything from mimosa trees and spring to nightclubs and crack-smoke,"[10] and explores " the way we learn to love and love again."[8]

Boully's third collection, The Book of Beginnings and Endings, "consists of beginnings and endings of more than 30 different texts, spliced together seemingly at random. The subject matter ranges wildly: invertebrate zoology, probability, the psychology of a scream, the retirement of an ice cream man, a plague of frogs. Slowly, the reader notices thematic connections and the shadow of a narrative arc."[11] As with Boully's previous collections, The Book of Beginnings and Endings accrues meaning and import through "use of association, rather than spelled-out narrative." It "resembles poetry. The texts themselves are essayistic, except that they are all fictional."[11] A reviewer for the Los Angeles Times focused on another shared element in all of Boully's books--love, the affair of love, its beginning and it ending: "Like Anaïs Nin, Boully believes exclusively in love; it's her religion." On the relationship between this author and her readers, the reviewer added: It's uncommonly good to read the work of a writer who believes so unabashedly in the miracle of writing—that some dimension, unlike any other, exists between the writer and the reader; that literature is an 'open system,' a 'living system.'"[12]


  • not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, Tarpaulin Sky Press; 1st paperback edition (June 15, 2011)
  • The Body: An Essay, Essay Press (March 1, 2007)
  • Moveable Types, Noemi Press; 1st edition (January 1, 2007)
  • The Book of Beginnings and Endings, Sarabande Books (November 1, 2007)
  • One Love Affair, Tarpaulin Sky Press; 1st paperback edition (April 24, 2006)


  1. ^Sarabande BooksArchived 2008-07-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^Tarpaulin Sky Press
  3. ^Rae Armantrout; John Ashbery; et al. (2002). The Best American Poetry 2002.Scribner Poetry. ISBN 0-7432-0386-0.
  4. ^Slope EditionsArchived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^Essay PressArchived 2008-07-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^Review of The Body in Jacket #19
  7. ^"The Year in Print," Coldfront Magazine, January 2007
  8. ^ abReview in Open Letters Magazine, Fall 2006
  9. ^Review in Matrix Magazine, Issue 76
  10. ^Review in Coldfront Magazine, Fall 2006
  11. ^ abReview in Publishers Weekly, August, 2007
  12. ^Review in Los Angeles Times, December, 2007

Not Merely Because of the Unknown That Was Stalking
Toward Them

In not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, Jenny Boully presents us with a “deliciously creepy” swan song from Wendy Darling to Peter Pan. As in her previous book [one love affair]*, Boully reads between the lines of a text—in this case J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy—and emerges with the darker underside, with those sinister or subversive places merely echoed or hinted at. Funny, sinister, and heartbreaking by turns, not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them explores, in dreamy and dark prose, how we love, how we pine away, and how we never stop loving and pining away. Her Neverland is bawdy, bursting, and beautiful.

More information  here.

The Book of Beginnings and Endings

How does the story begin? How does it end? This is what The Book of Beginnings and Endings will tell you, but nothing more. The middle-with its arguments, segues, denouement-isn't there. These are beginnings that wave goodbye with the door flung wide open, endings that open in medias res. Throwing her voice in a feat of lyrical ventriloquism, Jenny Boully tunes into every station to open or close more than fifty books ranging in subject matter from physics and astronomy to literary theory and love.

More information here.

As with Jenny Boully’s debut book The Body (2002), [one love affair]* is full of gaps and fissures and “seduces its reader by drawing unexpected but felicitous linkages between disparate citations from the history of literature,” a work that is “filled with the exegetical projection of our own imagination” (Christian Bok, Maisonneuve). Told through fragments that accrete through uncertain meanings, romanticized memories, and fleeting moments rather than clear narrative or linear time, [one love affair]* explores the spaces between too much and barely enough, fecundity and decay, the sublime and the disgusting, wholeness and emptiness, love and loneliness in a world where life can be interpreted as a series of love affairs that are “unwilling to complete.”

More information here.

The Body: an Essay

Comprised of footnotes to a non-existent text, The Body: An Essay is a meditation on absence, loss, and disappearance that offers a guarded “narrative” of what may or may not be a love letter, a dream, a spiritual autobiography, a memoir, or a scholarly digression, a treatise on the relation of life to book. Christian Bök describes Boully’s groundbreaking text as one that “may simply annotate a fantastic biography from another reality, referring only to itself as a kind of dream within a dream...The reader can only fantacize about the original contexts that might have made such information significant to its author, and ultimately, implies that the body of any text consists of nothing but a void—filled with the exegetical projection of our own imagination.” First published in 2002 and excerpted in such anthologies as The Next American Essay and The Best American Poetry 2002, The Body: An Essay continues to challenge conventional notions of plot and narrative, genre and form, theory and practice, unremittingly questioning the presumptive boundaries between reflection, imagination, and experience.

More information here.

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