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The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial by…

The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial (2007)

by Maggie Nelson

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Disappointed is too strong - just not what I was expecting.

"Maggie Nelson’s aunt was murdered in Michigan in 1969. Thirty-five years later, just as Nelson had completed writing a poetry collection about her, the case was reopened when new DNA evidence emerged."

She and her mom attend the trial, and she muses about autopsy photos, childhood memories, relationship troubles, death, identity. Whe was young when her father died suddenly, after her mom left him, and her sister went through a long period of rebellion.

I enjoyed it but I think I expected it to be more about the crime and the criminal, like most true crime books. It's fitting that instead it's about the victim and the marks her death left on those who loved her.

I feel sorry that this wasn't a hard read for me, though it made me sad. I feel a bit bad about my avid reading of true crime books, and my curiosity about the killer's thoughts and motives, instead of about the victim. But victims are the passive one in that partnership, aren't they, even though they have rich lives of their own. We can try to focus on them - news articles describing the victims of some killer so we can see they were people - but we wouldn't even know about them but for the murderer. ( )
  piemouth | Apr 23, 2018 |
Brilliantly haunting first-person account of the author's aunt Jane's murder and the doors of grief and loss it opens for the author and her family. ( )
  AntonioPaola | Jan 27, 2018 |
Maggie Nelson's Aunt Jane was murdered in 1969, 4 years before Nelson was born. She grew up knowing about the murder, and as an adult wrote a book about it, "Jane." Over the years it was presumed that Jane was murdered by a serial killer who was convicted for murdering other women. Then, in 2004 just "Jane" was about to be published, new DNA evidence identified Jane's actual murderer. Over the next months, Nelson attended the trial with her mother.

Despite its subtitle, this is not a true crime book, nor is it really an account of a murder trial, which is what I was expecting. Instead, it was more about Nelson's life, loves, and thoughts, which I really wasn't interested in. The New York Times asked, "{D}oes she want Jane's life to matter...or her own?" Exactly.

2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jul 14, 2017 |
In 2004, as Maggie Nelson is preparing to release her poetry collection JANE: A MURDER, she receives word that police believe they have found the man responsible for her aunt Jane's death decades before. In THE RED PARTS: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A TRIAL, the author explores her involvement in the investigation of the killer, primarily through research for her poetry collection, and her experiences as the investigation moves to arrest of the suspect and eventually the trial itself. Through this, the reader is taken, ultimately, on a journey to come to terms with whose life really matters in society.

This is not a "true crime" story or a courtroom transcript. Instead, Maggie Nelson weaves a thoughtful and emotionally expressive narrative of the grief her family endured during the initial investigation in 1969, and the new grief that she and the remaining family members experience through the current proceedings. You learn about the lasting impacts of the tragedy on Maggie's loved ones, and how those effects seeped into other relationships. She so masterfully and gracefully incorporates her memoir into the framework of the trial that the reader is left feeling the full breadth of emotions along with the author.

There are also deep-dives into aspects of criminal investigation that you don't often find in memoirs. The author writes in depth about the role of DNA analysis in modern investigations, and the analysis of the findings, since that technology wasn't available at the time of her aunt's initial murder trial. It is staggering to understand just how much can be known about a crime from the DNA that is left behind. You also find out how news programs and true-crime TV shows interact with victims and their families during these proceedings, the interactions of which are about as uncompassionate and exploitative as you would expect.

While the climax of THE RED PARTS is the jury's verdict in the trial, there is no grand expression of devastation or jubilance on either side. There is still an uneasiness for the author, because what good does this trial ultimately achieve? Her aunt is still dead, and an old man's life has been irrevocably changed. There are many questions probed in this autobiography of a trial, with few answers...much like life (and death) itself. It is the journey of Maggie Nelson's writing that makes this a gripping and emotional book - putting context to a life cut short. ( )
  BooksForYears | Nov 4, 2016 |
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For Christina Crosby and Janet Jakobsen, who train in the fire, and do the world justice.
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We have every reason to believe this case is moving swiftly toward a successful conclusion.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 141653203X, Hardcover)

One day in March 1969, twenty-three- year-old Jane Mixer was on her way home to tell her parents she was getting married. She had arranged for a ride through the campus bulletin board at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was one of a handful of pioneering women students at the law school. Her body was found the following morning just inside the gates of a small cemetery fourteen miles away, shot twice in the head and strangled. Six other young women were murdered around the same time, and it was assumed they had all been victims of alleged serial killer John Collins, who was convicted of one of these crimes not long after. Jane Mixer's death was long considered to be one of the infamous Michigan Murders, as they had come to be known. But officially, Jane's murder remained unsolved, and Maggie Nelson grew up haunted by the possibility that the killer of her mother's sister was still at large. In an instance of remarkable serendipity, more than three decades later, a 2004 DNA match led to the arrest of a new suspect for Jane's murder at precisely the same time that Nelson was set to publish a book of poetry about her aunt's life and death - a book she had been working on for years, and which assumed her aunt's case to be closed forever. The Red Parts chronicles the uncanny series of events that led to Nelson's interest in her aunt's death, the reopening of the case, the bizarre and brutal trial that ensued, and the effects these events had on the disparate group of people they brought together. But The Red Parts is much more than a "true crime" record of a murder, investigation, and trial. For into this story Nelson has woven a spare, poetic account of a girlhood and early adulthood haunted by loss, mortality, mystery, and betrayal, as well as a subtle but blistering look at the personal and political consequences of our cultural fixation on dead (white) women. The result is a stark, fiercely intell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:49 -0400)

Late in 2004, Maggie Nelson was looking forward to the publication of her book Jane: A Murder , a narrative in verse about the life and death of her aunt, who had been murdered thirty-five years before. The case remained unsolved, but Jane was assumed to have been the victim of an infamous serial killer in Michigan in 1969. Then, one November afternoon, Nelson received a call from her mother, who announced that the case had been reopened; a new suspect would be arrested and tried on the basis of a DNA match. Over the months that followed, Nelson found herself attending the trial with her mother and reflecting anew on the aura of dread and fear that hung over her family and childhood--an aura that derived not only from the terrible facts of her aunt's murder but also from her own complicated journey through sisterhood, daughterhood, and girlhood. The Red Parts is a memoir, an account of a trial, and a provocative essay that interrogates the American obsession with violence and missing white women, and that scrupulously explores the nature of grief, justice, and empathy.… (more)

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