Garrett’s newest off-site review of Jen Craig’s Panthers and the Museum of Fire was published today at The Collidescope.
Jen Craig’s Panthers and the Museum of Fire is a quiet, introspective work of autofiction that explores the internal emotional fallout surrounding the death of those closest to us. Our narrator learns of the death of Sarah, a friend from her younger school days, by receiving the manuscript of her unpublished novel. The narrator reflects that Sarah’s work is “a feast of words, as the blurb has put it, surprisingly correctly; I have often been impressed—overwhelmingly impressed—in this way by the books that I have read and then promptly given away—these books that disappoint me, that fill me with distaste; these books that do nothing but glance off my mind. Yet I force myself to read the books that others give me—these books that weigh the floors of my flat with the impressive descriptions of their contents.” (73) The complexities of her responsibility to the work itself, as well as her complicated relationship with her own ideas of self and memory, grab hold of Jen as she attempts to navigate what she must do with this storehouse of who Sarah is in her prose and what place her final words have in her endless storehouse of the books with which she has filled her life.