The Sound of Undoing

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The Sound of Undoing

A Memoir in Essays

Paige Towers

American Lives Series

210 pages

Paperback

March 2023

978-1-4962-3287-8

$21.95 Pre-order

About the Book

A memoir in essays, The Sound of Undoing deconstructs the way sound has overwhelmingly shaped Paige Towers’s life. Each essay focuses on a different sound, some perceptible—like the sound of a loon call or gunshot—and others abstract—like the sound of awakening. Given a hypersensitivity to noise from which she has both suffered and benefited since childhood, Towers uses these sounds as a starting point for making sense of past events. She reflects on the estrangement of a beloved sister, sexual abuse and assault, and the link between mental illness and noise in her family, as well as nature, religion, violence, and other themes. Experimental in form and provocative in content, The Sound of Undoing also makes use of research on silence, nature and noise pollution, listening, sound art, autonomous sensory meridian response, and the acoustic environment in general. By exploring memories and feelings triggered by certain noises, this lyrical meditation untangles a life infused with meaning through sound.

Author Bio

Paige Towers is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Hobart, Washington Post, The Guardian, Harvard Review, McSweeney’s, and many other publications.

Praise

“This book gifted me a deeper awareness of noise—its powers to depress or delight, estrange or connect. . . . Part anguished lament, part rapturous ode, Paige Towers has given us a portrait of overwhelming sensation.”—Gabrielle Bates, author of Judas Goat

The Sound of Undoing is for any person who’s been told they are too sensitive to the burdens of our times. Spanning sister grief, noise exposure, and estrangement from self and society, Paige Towers investigates the echoing possibilities—attuned to both joy and trauma—of everyday sounds. Celebrating the minuscule and the immense in equal measure, this memoir is a real contribution to our understanding of the aural and emotional landscapes of womanhood.”—Kristen Millares Young, author of Subduction

“Towers guides us through her discoveries of sound—its presence, absence, and lyrical implications. But it always comes back to love. This book explores what it means to perceive the world in surprising ways by showing us how we can understand what tethers us to our relationships and hold what we cannot see to the light with faith.”—Su Cho, author of The Symmetry of Fish

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue: The Sound of Drawing
Part 1
The Sound of Cutting
Causality
The Sound of Control
Sick
The Sound of Awakening
Therapy
The Sound of a Loon Call
Communal
Part 2
The Sound of Undoing
Trauma
The Sound of Nothing
Deafness
The Sound of an Imitated Ocean
Art
The Sound of the Mute Button
Change
Part 3
The Sound of a Mimicker
Disruption
The Sound of an Animal
Urban
The Sound of a Whisper
ASMR
The Sound of a Split Throat
Perception
The Sound of the Unsaid
Relationships
Part 4
The Sound of a Poet
Violence
The Sound of a Shot Spotted
Lines
The Sound of a Slow Bleed
Absence
The Sound of Morning Quiet
Epilogue
Source Acknowledgments
Acknowledgments
Bibliography

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