The Politics of Retching

Doesn’t late-stage colonialist capitalism just make you want to hurl?

By Sarah Aziza

A watercolor image of a figure leaning over a lake and vomitting
Courtesy of Drea Cofield

“Are you gagging from the smell?” I said “Or are you sick?” 

Fellis waved a hand at me and breathed deep. We were almost by the tribal museum, almost to the bridge and out of that rotting place, when Fellis pulled over.

“Can’t you wait?” I said. Fellis got out of the truck and dropped to the ground, hands and knees among hundreds of dead caterpillars, and he vomited. 

The smell took over the inside of the truck. I gagged and went to open the door but it would not open…I threw up on the floor of his truck.”

Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty 

At first, I didn’t notice the nausea creeping in as I made my way through Morgan Talty’s recent story collection, Night of the Living Rez. Unassuming, I turned the pages with the ravenous appetite I always have when encountering exquisite prose. I was a few stories deep by the time I realized my gut had twisted into a familiar, sour knot, my shoulders hunching forward as if to protect my queasy core. I was feeling sick — and I was not alone. At some point in each of the poignant and often-humorous stories in Rez, at least one character is nauseous, gagging, or vomiting.

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