Brood, by Jackie Polzin

Staff Pick

“Brood” has many meanings—from the hopeful act of nesting to the melancholy of dwelling on unhappiness—and Polzin’s accomplished first novel partakes of all of them. In short, vivid  sections with the intimacy of journal entries, the unnamed narrator takes us through the events of a Minnesota year in a town cursed by “a failure to reach potential,” where she waits for news about her husband’s academic appointment, cleans houses, copes with weather, and cares for four chickens. The descriptions of the hens’ daily routines, laying habits, pecking order, appearances, and sad demises are meticulously detailed and lovely: feed in a chute rattles “the small cage that is a chicken” and its comb is a bit of “lobed flesh from outer space [in] an ordinary red.” When, a third of the way in, Polzin’s narrator describes her devastating miscarriage, all the references to eggs and motherhood acquire a sharp emotional resonance, one all the more powerful for the few direct references to it. As she struggles to come to terms with what she can’t understand—both in herself and the birds—the protagonist renders her world in unforgettable images; from “the corner shop, which is always changing hands but never changing,” to uprooted trees that “float up from the ground and dance a tarantella,” Polzin’s language shimmers with beauty and wisdom; like the miracle of sun and nutrients that is a hen’s egg, her prose “appears to glow because it glows.”


Brood: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385546751
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Doubleday - March 9th, 2021

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