A review of
A Seahorse Year
by Stacey D’Erasmo
The world is divided into invisible particles of earth, air, fire, and water, claimed poet-philosopher Empedocles: the warring powers of Love and Strife create good and evil as Love brings the particles together and Strife forces them apart. Hippocrates connected the four elements to the bodily humors, an idea seized on in the middle ages and carried into the present. Stacey D’Erasmo, in her rich, complex new novel, A Seahorse Year, uses the elements to illuminate characters driven by Love and Strife, desiring both intimacy and escape. D’Erasmo hints at the traditional elements and humors, and also creates a new set—Blood, Breath, Bone, and String. Each of the main sections of the book is named for one of these new elements, and each connects to a moment of terror, waste, or hope.
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