The Body Double by Jared Harel

  • Body-Double

In The Body Double, a downtrodden young man wakes one morning to find a mysterious twin living with him. Normally the presence of a doppelgänger would turn anyone’s world upside down, but in this case the two quickly settle into a routine. Together they work a thankless job, hang out, paint, go to the fair, mow lawns, fight over the blanket, upset their girlfriend, and basically continue living the same rather uneventful life the original has been living. But as the double becomes increasingly self-aware, and increasingly headstrong, more differences arise, and tensions between original and copy quickly escalate.

The Body Double
by Jared Harel

Pub Date: September 15, 2012
40 pages
ISBN-13: 9781936767144


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Harel writes with such grace, lacing his preoccupations with such a light touch of humor, that you often forget The Body Double is cut from the same big questions that keep us all up at night. If you’ve strayed from poetry, this is the book that will bring you back. If you’ve ever secretly wished that Kafka had been an optimist, this is the poet for you.

Téa Obreht

With mischievous appreciation for the human dilemma, The Body Double charts the adventures of a rebellious, canny self within the self, and in doing so offers an imaginative perspective on both the classic doppelgänger and the contemporary fascination with identity. These charming ontological poems suggest our myopia and powerlessness in the face of our own fears and delusions. They offer a wild exploration of proximity: estranged identities we wish we could suppress, the neighboring self we pity or blame. The wily id morphs into a sweeter version of the evil twin—a double-tasking double-dealer who gradually subsumes the hapless narrator. By means of such subtle doubling, Jared Harel entertains and surprises as he encounters—and enlivens—one of the great literary motifs.

Alice Fulton

The Body Double is an impressive achievement of imagination and wordplay. With this, his first collection, Harel enters the American literary scene already accomplished. An estimable debut.

BJ Ward

When we look closely at “I,” we always seem to see a stranger, and so the doppelgänger is a perennial figure of dream. The shadow self follows us, looks back sometimes from the face of a person across from us at the intersection, and sometimes seems to speak out of our mouths before we know what’s happening. Harel’s witty and inventive poem employs a wide register of forms—from the sonnet to the legal contract—to investigate the inexhaustible power of Rimbaud’s dictum: Je est un autre.

Mark Doty

Review from JMWW.

Interview with WRNJ Radio.

Interview with Stated Magazine.

harelfacepicJared Harél is the author of Go Because I Love You (Diode Editions, 2018) and The Body Double (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012). He’s been awarded the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from American Poetry Review, as well as the William Matthews Poetry Prize from Asheville Poetry Review. His poems have also appeared in such journals as 32 Poems, Poetry Daily, Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, Tin House, and Threepenny Review. Harél plays drums, teaches writing at Nassau Community College, and lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two kids. For more info stop by: 

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I forgot who
you were, your name
and face,

your place
in my mind
was suddenly

amiss. Forgive me,
I whispered.
This is my pad.

You must be
my sibling. Here
is a mango.

I reached for you
and felt
only wind.

The sky, I uttered,
is terribly blue.
That poodle

you are petting
was implausibly

You said
nothing. The narrative
forbid it.

I showed you
my penis. I pointed
out trees.



Since true emotions are inarticulate
and a tear is sincere only
by definition, I shut down
to find out the story, get the facts

by factoring out. My girlfriend
hates this: one-word answers,
the incessant silence, my double
all snowy like a broken TV.

She wonders what he’s thinking,
what I think of her outfit.
She turns to the mirror when he fails
to respond. Then one night

after screwing, she screams
I’m leaving! and straightens herself,
searching for her bra. By the time
she’s down the block, I see

she means it. He sees she means it
but can’t see what she means.



My body double tells me
I’m away on business
and won’t be back
for quite some time.

Meanwhile, he’s agreed
to read my mail,
pick up the newspaper,
just to be safe.

He insists it’s no trouble
walking my dog,
dating my girlfriend,
raking the leaves

around my refinished deck.
If I need to call,
I should try
my own number,

unless it is Sunday,
in which case,
my mother’s.