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Obsessive Tactics in Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace: Ploughshares

In Patty Yumi Cottrell’s novel Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, the narrator Helen Moran investigates her adopted brother’s suicide, an effort complicated by Helen’s own profound alienation. Relentlessly interior, discursive and associative, the novel reads as the direct outcome of Helen’s grief, an inner crisis she attempts to control with obsessive tactics that give the novel its form. 

Quickly, we realize Helen is out of sync with the rest of the world. Even the most commonplace exchange sees her invoke a tone of gravitas, a degree of abstraction, as when she informs the man delivering her roommate’s couch “…it’s as if there are all these unseen forces out in the world actively working against us.”

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Sue Rainsford