Elementary Calculus – J Carrier

In mathematics, Elementary Calculus is a branch focused on limits and functions, derivatives and infinite series. J Carrier’s Elementary Calculus is a complex and powerful tale of distance and the fragility of relationships and communication, focusing on migrant workers living in Israel who rely on pay phones to keep in touch with loved ones back home. With a number of recurring motifs or metaphors relating to themes of distance, freedom and impermanence running concurrently throughout the book – pay phones, pigeons, fruit and flowers – it becomes something of a story within a story. The book begins with a white pigeon sitting inside the crevice of a stone wall whilst on the facing page is a photograph of a pay phone. It ends almost mirroring this scene. This time though, the pay phone is hung upside down on the receiver, left off of the hook – symbolic of a time when the status of these immigrants hangs in the balance, suggesting many more conversations to follow.  

J Carrier
Elementary Calculus
£35 / 128pp /  Sep 2012

Reviewed by Joanna Cresswell
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