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Named for the floor between floors and a kind of amphibious financing, Zoë Hitzig’s exquisitely engineered Mezzanine lands the reader in a nether place of talking commodities, misplaced agency, category mistakes, and radical dysphoria. As intricately woven as it is scrupulously observed and considered, if this “unwell trelliswork” of anomie and economics sounds strangely familiar, that’s because we live here, siloed on digital platforms where denial is easy, where fabricated cricket song takes the place of crickets and self-knowledge has been obviated by human subject research. Into these dire circumstances Hitzig dives head-first, feverish, an investigator who grapples with reality by recasting it from the inside out. In other words, she is a poet, and an extraordinary one at that—one whose response to our communal plight (“Then everyone was plural: data”) is charged with an intensity that at times recalls Eliot in its elegant, extrapersonal despair (“a heap of crackling synapses”), but here and there, and just in time, a fleck of good cheer or unexpected hopefulness (“I am not preparing / to leave”) reminds us of what there is to love in the human, and what it feels like to feel like it’s still too soon to give up.
- Timothy Donnelly