90 pages, 4.5" x 7"
Publication Date: 17 Dec 2016
Disaster is an investigation into what is possible when everything goes perfectly wrong; when planes crash, trains derail, and structures collapse. The details are put forward as a way to examine how each disaster is mourned as a catastrophic exception to the order of things. Ultimately, looking at these events creates space to explore the connection between the collective trauma experienced in the wake of a large scale disaster and a personal story of mourning.
Praise for Disaster
Madison Davis’ Disaster is compelling. At first you can’t bear to read it then you can’t bear not to. When disaster occurs in one’s life, when there is death, there are levels of grief. One is pulled into the disaster according to the specific lineaments of the dying. Was it sudden? Was the person young? Was it violent? Was it the one person you cannot lose? How is it possible to go forward into life when “It cannot happen / it happened”? With Disaster Davis faces into loss by composing with details of what might be called unnatural disasters, tragedies caused by stupidity or just bad luck. She isn’t looking for solace and finds none. The beautifully articulated disasters in this book feel dangerous, inevitable, and random. As they say, you can't look away and yet, as Davis points out, “...we look away so quickly from disaster. We take it in every day and count ourselves fortunate to be spared.” But, as Disaster shows, we are not really spared.
Disaster is an arrestingly beautiful investigation into grief, and its remains. This project asks, what are the details that might make us comprehend the incomprehensible? Its conceits are insistent and unrelenting. Fire, airplane crash, building collapse, stampede, car accident, Madison Davis magnifies the catalogue of information on either side of death by disaster. She meticulously combs through the rubble of information, names, factual inconsistencies, human error or indiscretion, as to invent, or understand, the precise moments of catastrophe. As if, with enough precision, we might uncover the fissure between alive and not so, and as such, reside there as witness. Disaster does not attempt to make that fissure otherwise, although there is that longing. Instead, it suspends itself, impossibly, before the aftermath. Because, while this book is populated by the dead and the details of accident, it is haunted by a voice who reckons with what it is to be left alive. Madison Davis shows us what is on the other side of grief, where disaster and loss press us beyond the limits of ourselves, turn us to face into the facts of the unimaginable. From which, she insists, we may not turn away. Disaster outlines the shape around which the living remain. It takes its ghosts seriously, and it is shimmering and devastating, leaving us to “reconstruct our necessity in the aftermath.
Madison Davis writes about family, water, mourning, and disaster. Her recent work can be found in Elderly, Hold: A Journal, The Portable Boog Reader, It’s night in San Francisco but it’s sunny in Oakland and Open House. She lives, writes, and works retail in Oakland. Disaster is her first book.