The Red Parts: A Memoir by Maggie Nelson (Free Press) is the story of the killing of Jane Mixer – Ms. Nelson’s aunt – and its impact on her family. The crime was originally considered one of the famous “Michigan Murders” that occurred in Ann Arbor in the 1960s, but in 2005 (as the author was publishing a collection of poetry reflecting on the family tragedy) DNA evidence surfaced that implicated a new suspect.
This New York Times review observes:
“The Red Parts,” Maggie Nelson’s memoir of her aunt Jane’s killing, which was one in a series that was labeled â€œthe Michigan Murders,â€ opens with a quotation from Nietzsche: “In all desire to know there is already a drop of cruelty.” These words take us directly into Nelson’s conflicted psyche. A 34-year-old poet, she never met Jane, yet became so obsessed with her death she fell prey to what she calls “murder mind.” By day she researches rhyming words for “skull” and “bullet.” By night she is assailed by sickening images with “the slapping, prehensile force of the return of the repressed.” But she is ripped from her grim reveries when an investigator announces that – thanks to a DNA match – Jane’s unsolved case has been reopened and that an arrest, 35 years after the crime, is imminent.
Cecil Vortex has an interesting interview with Maggie Nelson, and you can read excerpts from the book at Google Books and learn more about the Michigan Murders at Wikipedia.
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