At the core of this challenging new collection from Janet Holmes is the conceit of the sense of sight and the complex role it plays in women’s self-identities and relationships.
Emily Dickinson is introduced as the iconic female writer who, unread in her time, is frequently misinterpreted and unheard. Holmes relates Dickinson’s self-isolation to the writer’s isolation from the reader and the intimacy of the act of reading. Echo, Eurydice, and Eros—other “E” figures, these mythological, their stories relying on seeing and being seen—are related by Holmes to twentieth-century counterparts manifesting as an anorexic, a flamboyant dresser, and a love god, respectively.
Holmes intersperses her meditation with the language of online text-messaging, employing it as a vehicle for probing the dual limitations and liberties afforded on-line correspondents. Through her correspondents’ postings, we chart their relationship evolving without benefit of ever meeting or exchanging photographs, the participants deeply affected by the absence of the sense of sight. By turns provocative and timid, lyrical and terse, the voices in F2F exhibit myriad human reactions to how seeing each other influences how we behave.