The nineteen stories in The Seven Autopsies of Nora Hanneman track the splintered trajectory of the title character, tracing a chickenscratch line of psychosexual development from childhood to old age. Two schoolgirls culminate their sexual exploration in a surreal act of cannibalism. A sister molds her dead brother’s body into a bird. A woman gives birth to balls of twine and fur (among other things). A sex worker engages a version of herself in a brothel of prostituted body parts. Courtney E. Morgan tears apart a host of archetypes and tropes of femininity— dismembering them, skinning them, and then draping them one by one over her characters like fur coats—revealing them as ill-fitting, sometimes comedic, sometimes monstrous, and always insufficient, masks. In stories that range from fairy tale to horror story, from confessional to erotica to creation myth, mutability, instability, and liminality are foregrounded, blurring the lines between birth and death, death and sex, tugging at the transitional spaces of adolescence and gestation.
“Courtney Morgan’s dark and surprising stories turn sharp corners. You read and discover that the passage between life and death is the threshold you already crossed. Morgan is a writer whose sentences produce what they describe: the disorderly sensation of a threatening desire.” —JOANNA RUOCCO, author of Dan, Another Governess/The Least Blacksmith, and A Compendium of Domestic Incidents
“The Seven Autopsies of Nora Hanneman is disarming and smart and spooky. I’ve never read anything quite like it.” —NOY HOLLAND, author of Bird and Swim for the Little One First
“In The Seven Autopsies of Nora Hanneman, Courtney Morgan has designed a map of the female body and a psychosexual journey. Weaving her way through different storytelling modes, including fairy tale and horror, fiction and nonfiction, literal and lyric, these creepy but also vital stories create, decreate, and recreate the skins we live in: language and the body. Breathtakingly.” —LIDIA YUKNAVITCH, author of The Small Backs of Children and The Chronology of Water: A Memoir