Witch Hunt by Juliet Escoria
Juliet Escoria’s “Witch Hunt” is what literature looks like when it is being honest. There are no allusions to pretty things, indeed much of the book is cast to explore the uglier impulses, what people see and experience on a regular basis. Over the course of her life, she has seen the mind-numbing stupidity of Axl Rose, both when he was beautiful and now, when he is not. By refusing to clean up her life story, her words become more compelling. A romantic quality is invoked throughout the collection, of those words for the worthless ones the ex-boyfriends to more recent relationships.
Pop culture finds itself strewn across the page. McDonalds are terrible, the way Sesame Street teaches the same lessons again and again, it has a futility to it. A vast culture that may possibly be creating a vast uniformity, it seems unsurprising people may want to duck out of it. Conversely the warmth that such familiar places bring can be the only guiding light in extremely dark moments, the need for a thing that feels stable and simply unchanging. One of the most interesting examples would be the remarkable consistency of how television teaches the same thing, reiterated again and again as a thing for every new generation to experience.
The way of offending others can be quite liberating. Juliet Escoria covers this too according to her desire to be a terrible powerful force to be reckoned with, which must mean she is insane. However, by pointing this out Juliet Escoria shows the flip side of cruelty, how it is a way to express oneself and to achieve some power over a life that may not feel particularly powerful. 2005 is conjured up, a special outfit made to purposefully offend others. Yes, this worked yet Juliet Escoria ultimately realized how weak, how meek the other party goers truly were.
Her family comes into view. Thus, an entire history of Juliet Escoria emerges. Aspects of it involved a desire to mark, to label what was what in order to impose some order. Conversations reveal exactly the fears her parents had of her, of how she grew up, evolved, and the spirit she possessed as a child. Families have a lot of oddity, all the hidden angles that define what informs a relationship. Some of these things are logical, but plenty are emotional, with only tenuous connections.
An off-kilter humor emerges in the “Nature Poems Are Boring” section. With these pieces Juliet Escoria strips the dreamy notions of what the wilderness contains. The way she hates horses is passionate, as are the observations on how humanity interacts with the rest of the animal kingdom. It could be seen as a critique, a dryly recalled memory, simply stating the obvious, etc. By refusing to make it romantic, to pine for it, Juliet Escoria makes nature real rather than an imagined notion written about from far away.
Juliet Escoria’s “Witch Hunt” is completely and refreshingly unapologetic.