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A new entry in Soft Skull’s ShortLit series, Jane tells the spectral story of the life and death of Maggie Nelson’s aunt Jane. Though officially unsolved, Jane’s murder was apparently the third in a series of seven brutal rape-murders near the University of Michigan in the late 1960s. Nelson was born a few years after Jane’s death, and the narrative is suffused with the long shadow her aunt?s murder cast over both the family and her psyche. Through a collage of poetry, prose, dream accounts, and documentary sources ? including fragments from Jane’s own diaries ? the book explores the nature of this haunting incident and raises deeper questions about girlhood, empathy, identification, and the essentially unknowable aspects of another?s life and death. Part elegy, part memoir, part detective story, part meditation on violence, and part conversation between the living and the dead, Jane’s powerful and disturbing subject matter, combined with its innovations in genre, expands the notion of what poetry can do, what kinds of stories it can tell, and how it can tell them.

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