In concise and distilled prose, Lemus presents a collection of still lifes, landscapes, and portraits of a challenging year that threatened all she loved most. Particulate Matter is the story of a year in Felicia Luna Lemus's marriage when the world turned upside down. It's set in Los Angeles, and it's about love and crisis, loss and grief, the city and the ocean, ancestral ghosts and history haunting.
It is important that Particulate Matter is about a queer marriage, not because of its politics, which are not discussed, but because it just is. It exists in a tender and desperate way, both within and because of another (politicized) reality of present-day America: environmental damage and toxicity ... Particulate Matter is a tiny, powerful flame of a book ... Lemus’ writing lands like sparks and ash, fragmented and tinged with grief ... Some pages contain only a single word, including a series of Spanish words around nosiness, messiness, scandal ... These grains of thought, bits of heart, land all around the reader like embers, bringing them into the broken circle of narrative ... There is love in these fragments, too ... Lemus captures the wisps of longing that pull people toward each other, toward an idea of home. Meanwhile, the context for this humanity is always the earth on which we live ... Particulate Matter is a small book that accomplishes in remarkably few words a deeply felt narrative — that is, an exploration of the simultaneity of delight, yearning, grief and confusion of being in love with a person and a place. Of being alive at all.
... it's more than just a cautionary tale about how climate change and its manmade causes have affected the life of the author. It's a love story that's profoundly rooted in the emotional, geographical, and sociopolitical terrain of today ... Illuminated by everyday observations and revelations, Lemus' narrative is one of sensitive quietude in the face of transition and grief. Thoughts echo; emotions unfold. Casual racism and homophobia lurk in the background of her day-to-day reality, with Lemus and Revoyr being not only queer but mixed race ... Lemus' themes are whopping, but her delivery is subtle ... Like song lyrics or snapshots, her wisps and fragments of language take on a coded and otherworldly atmosphere, one that conveys wonder and dread almost subliminally.
In this totally unique micro-memoir, Lemus returns for an unforgettable meditation on her experiences ... It is episodic and sparse, each page a thought or two about the state of her marriage and her memory during one particularly difficult year ... Lemus bears an unmatched precision of the craft. This succinct mic drop of a personal story begs to be read over and over again.