Troy, Unincorporated

Paperback | May 24, 2012

byFrancesca Abbate

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A meditation on the nature of betrayal, the constraints of identity, and the power of narrative, the lyric monologues in Troy, Unincorporated offer a retelling, or refraction, of Chaucer’s tragedy Troilus and Criseyde. The tale’s unrooted characters now find themselves adrift in the industrialized farmlands, strip malls, and half-tenanted “historic” downtowns of south-central Wisconsin, including the real, and literally unincorporated, town of Troy. Allusive and often humorous, they retain an affinity with Chaucer, especially in terms of their roles: Troilus, the good courtly lover, suffers from the weeps, or, in more modern terms, depression. Pandarus, the hard-working catalyst who brings the lovers together in Chaucer’s poem, is here a car mechanic.
            Chaucer’s narrator tells a story he didn’t author, claiming no power to change the course of events, and the narrator and characters in Troy, Unincorporated struggle against a similar predicament. Aware of themselves as literary constructs, they are paradoxically driven by the desire to be autonomous creatures—tale tellers rather than tales told. Thus, though Troy, Unincorporated follows Chaucer’s plot—Criseyde falls in love with Diomedes after leaving Troy to live with her father, who has broken his hip, and Troilus dies of a drug overdose—it moves beyond Troilus’s death to posit a possible fate for Criseyde on this “litel spot of erthe.”

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A meditation on the nature of betrayal, the constraints of identity, and the power of narrative, the lyric monologues in Troy, Unincorporated offer a retelling, or refraction, of Chaucer’s tragedy Troilus and Criseyde. The tale’s unrooted characters now find themselves adrift in the industrialized farmlands, strip malls, and half-tenan...

Francesca Abbate is associate professor of English at Beloit College. Her poetry has appeared in Field, Iowa Review, NEO, and Poetry, among others. 
Format:PaperbackDimensions:96 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 inPublished:May 24, 2012Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226001202

ISBN - 13:9780226001203

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

[Chorus:] Everything is half here

One

[Psyche’s Song:] Praise me, I told the water lilies, for I am half-invincible
[Narrator:] Of eighth grade
[Criseyde:] How sadly my friends and I
[Pandarus:] Troilus I said we’re just dumb boys you know
[Troilus:] Sniffly weather, the sky all prologue
[Criseyde:] In those days arrows were very magic
[Psyche:] On the walls, the usual Americana
[Pandarus:] We made a sand woman on Harrington Beach

Two

[Cassandra:] The halo—no mere incandescence
[Narrator:] The afternoon grew taller when a boy on Halsted
[Criseyde:] Like the friend following you
[Troilus:] I was a boy. I listened to frog song
[Criseyde:] Already I miss Troy
[Pandarus:] Slatternday Crumbday
[Criseyde:] I didn’t know who I was we say
[Troilus:] I watched him paint all he could draw

Three

[Chorus:] We tried to remember
[Narrator:] Our usual consolation of daisies
[Criseyde:] Dear (you know I never rode horses well)
[Troilus:] What lean pickings
[Criseyde:] I knew my would-be lover
[Troilus:] Nightfall when I crossed
[Criseyde:] By night my father’s house shines
[Cassandra:] Now the accrual of was. At Booth Lake, the body

Four

[Chorus:] Then came the sand trucks
[Narrator:] We take the Hoan bridge home
[Criseyde:] If in any harbor
[Criseyde:] It was like the old world sent me a letter
[Criseyde:] The canister of Ajax glinting on the counter
[Criseyde:] Daily it storms: dams give out, a lake in the next county
[Chorus:] The way fences open

Notes

Editorial Reviews

“This story really works in poetic form, the narrative propelled by diary-like observations and meditations. Eventually, the ‘{Chorus:}’ confirms that ‘heroes go down / singing. They go down / with mouths full of thorns.’ In Abbate’s mouth, those thorns have kept their roses.”