Yellow City by Ellena Savage

Yellow City by Ellena Savage

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We have grown accustomed to words like “necessary” and “searing” when describing books that delve into assault. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), only 230 out of 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police. In other words, three out of four cases of assault go unreported. To add to this staggering statistic, only five out of 1,000 perpetrators will go to jail for their crimes. In Ellena Savage’s essay, Yellow City, we trace the infuriating, Kafkaesque bureaucracy of reporting a crime by way of daily record, and what it means to follow up with the crime years later. Savage’s record is methodical, because survivors must be painstakingly accurate to every detail, every wincing inch of the night in question. Indeed, this record sears us.

We are left to meditate on this word almost, this word attempt. In monologue, the phrases “almost-rape” and “attempt” pulse with agony. What is an attempted rape? Savage tells us it is “an encounter during which my flesh remembered the possibility of a violent death. When my body understood for a second that corpses are dismembered to cover up crimes.” 

This work must be read. It should have been read in 1912, in 1560, in 2006. I wager it will need to be read in 2040, if we make it that long. Do yourself a favor and preorder this marvel of a chapbook. But don’t just take our word for it:

"In Yellow CityEllena Savage's mind translates the memory of violence into astonishingly brilliant language. She perfectly articulates the creeping feeling that one’s life is irreversible in a way that, prior to reading, I felt language may be incapable of capturing. This made me sure that she was either a genius, or a witch, or my dream coupling of the two.” —Rita Bullwinkel, author of Belly Up

"Delving into troubling territory, Savage brings a fierce intellect, sharp wit, and a handful of uncomfortable truths. To read her is to be simultaneously thrilled and uneasy. Savage is a writer not to miss." —Jessie Cole, author of Staying