Chekhov's work and life fuse with a daughter's caring for her dying mother in this powerful debut.
Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths is a book-length series of poems written from the perspective of a daughter who reads Chekhov obsessively while spending a spring and summer caring for her mother, who is dying from pulmonary fibrosis. Through the prism of the relationships in Chekhov's work and life emerges an honest, intimate, and even occasionally humorous portrayal of the energy we put into each other's lives during times of deterioration and suffering. A prismatic, memorable debut
... In the early
editions of Chekhov's letters, his editors removed
anything that might stain his image or the image
of Russia. An ellipsis stands in for vulgar language,
deleterious remarks, and the references to masturbation
he used, like little brooks across the page, but as far as I know,
no one made confetti of his personal life.
If it were up to me, I'd prefer to talk today. To ask
my mother questions, finish half-told stories.
— from “Yellow?
About the author
Susan Paddon was born and grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario, attended McGill and Concordia Universities in Montreal, and lived overseas in Paris and London before settling in Margaree, Nova Scotia. Her poems have appeared in Arc, CV2, The Antigonish Review and Geist.
"While the Chekhov family and the poet chart the lagoon of death, there is a unity in their respective grieving. It is within poetry; there is comfort “a landmass to cling to. Paddon's debut is both deeply tragic, and profoundly poetic, a testament to life and death as one equal force." — Shannon Webb-Campbell (CWILA Critic-in-Residence), Atlantic Books Today