2011, 112 pages
An Atlas of Lost Causes by Marjorie Stein pulls the reader into a rich, internal world where perception is doubled and "stars are just dead lightfalling behind schedule." As her poetic noir unfolds, quotidian detail accumulates as evidence of human scenarios bleeds into the infinite: "You know how sometimes, at night in a city, you may hear someone crying out in distress? The stains were that sound and shape, spilled in a darkness that smashes into awareness." At the core of the work are the narrator's attempts to understand the mystery surrounding her twin sister and an unnamed crime. Her contemplations circle around references to camera obscura, Muybridge photographs, Marlene Dietrich, and moreall in an effort to fathom how each human life must eventually end. Yet as the narrative progresses, the reader is led to wonder: Is it the twin's disintegration, or the narrator's, we watch unfold? Original line drawings accompany the text.
Marjorie Stein was born in 1958 in rural southwestern Michigan. She traveled to San Francisco during her spring break in 1978 and decided to stay. Marjorie lives in Santa Rosa, California, where she works as a sustainability analyst for green building design. She currently serves as an Assistant Editor for VOLT. Marjorie's work has appeared in The Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, VOLT, zaum, Phoebe, Poetry Motel, Pavement Saw Press, and other publications. A previous chapbook manuscript, Flammable Histories, was a finalist in the Pavement Saw Press Chapbook Contest in 2002. An Atlas of Lost Causes is Stein's first book.