Places I’ve Taken My Body: Essays by Molly McCully Brown

Places I’ve Taken My Body: Essays by Molly McCully Brown

Publisher/Year: Persia, 2020

Format: E-book (Libby)

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐



In seventeen intimate essays, poet Molly McCully Brown explores living within and beyond the limits of a body–in her case, one shapes since birth by cerebral palsy, a permanent and often painful movement disorder. In spite of–indeed, in response to–physical constraints, Brown leads a peripatetic life: the essays comprise a vivid travelogue set throughout the United States and Europe, ranging from the rural American South of her childhood to the cobblestoned streets of Bologna, Italy. Moving between these locales and others, Brown constellates the subjects that define her inside and out: a disabled and conspicuous body, a religious conversion, a missing twin, a life in poetry. As she does, she depicts vividly for us not only her own life but a striking array of sites and topics, among them Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the world’s oldest anatomical theater, the American Eugenics movement, and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Throughout, Brown offers us the gift of her exquisite sentences, woven together in consideration, always, of what it means to be human–flawed, potent, feeling.

What I thought

Words simply cannot express how beautiful and moving and thought-provoking this collection of essays was. You can absolutely tell that Molly is a poet. There were phrases and passages that were so breathtaking that I was nearly moved to tears–they actually made me ache. I would never presume to “know” Brown, but she writes in such an honest and frank way as to feel truly familiar to her readers.

As with any collection of shorter writing, some spoke to me more than others, but still, as a whole, this was an incredible collection. I absolutely recommend this to everyone. Even though I read this through my library, I will be picking up a copy of this for my own shelves and I will certainly be seeking out Brown’s other works.