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Book Summary: Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color . . . A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue. With Bluets, Maggie Nelson has entered the pantheon of brilliant lyric essayists. Maggie Nelson is the author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007) and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007). She lives in Los Angeles and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.
Book Summary: A Guardian Book of the Year Maggie Nelson is one of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation - Olivia Laing Bluets winds its way through depression, divinity, alcohol, and desire, visiting along the way with famous blue figures, including Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Yves Klein, Leonard Cohen and Andy Warhol. While its narrator sets out to construct a sort of ‘pillow book’ about her lifelong obsession with the colour blue, she ends up facing down both the painful end of an affair and the grievous injury of a dear friend. The combination produces a raw, cerebral work devoted to the inextricability of pleasure and pain, and to the question of what role, if any, aesthetic beauty can play in times of great heartache or grief. Much like Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse, Bluets has passed between lovers in the ecstasy of new love, and been pressed into the hands of the heartbroken. Visceral, learned, and acutely lucid, Bluets is a slim feat of literary innovation and grace, never before published in the UK.
Book Summary: Before Maggie Nelson’s name became synonymous with such genre-defying, binary-slaying writing as The Argonauts and The Art of Cruelty, this collection of poetry introduced readers to a singular voice in the making: exhilarating, fiercely vulnerable, intellectually curious, and one of a kind. These days/the world seems to split up/into those who need to dredge/and those who shrug their shoulders/and say, It’s just something/that happened. While Maggie Nelson refers here to a polluted urban waterway, the Gowanus Canal, these words could just as easily describe Nelson’s incisive approach to desire, heartbreak, and emotional excavation in Something Bright, Then Holes. Whether writing from the debris-strewn shores of a contaminated canal or from the hospital room of a friend, Nelson charts each emotional landscape she encounters with unparalleled precision and empathy. Since its publication in 2007, the collection has proven itself to be both a record of a singular vision in the making as well as a timeless meditation on love, loss, and―perhaps most frightening of all―freedom.
Book Summary: Stalking the Vesper Bluets is a collection of color photographs by nature photographer Stephen Cresswell. Included are fifty brief essays on topics ranging from male camaraderie among Walruses, to human interactions with Snapping Turtles, to researching the sex lives of fishes.
Book Summary: Maggie Nelson provides the first extended consideration of the roles played by women in and around the New York School of poets, from the 1950s to the present, and offers unprecedented analyses of the work of Barbara Guest, Bernadette Mayer, Alice Notley, Eileen Myles, and abstract painter Joan Mitchell as well as a reconsideration of the work of many male New York School writers and artists from a feminist perspective.
Book Summary: So often deployed as a jingoistic, even menacing rallying cry, or limited by a focus on passing moments of liberation, the rhetoric of freedom both rouses and repels. Does it remain key to our autonomy, justice, and well-being, or is freedom's long star turn coming to a close? Does a continued obsession with the term enliven and emancipate, or reflect a deepening nihilism (or both)? On Freedom examines such questions by tracing the concept's complexities in four distinct realms: art, sex, drugs, and climate. Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. Her abiding interest lies in ongoing "practices of freedom" by which we negotiate our interrelation with--indeed, our inseparability from--others, with all the care and constraint that relation entails, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion. For Nelson, thinking publicly through the knots in our culture--from recent art world debates to the turbulent legacies of sexual liberation, from the painful paradoxes of addiction to the lure of despair in the face of the climate crisis--is itself a practice of freedom, a means of forging fortitude, courage, and company. On Freedom is an invigorating, essential book for challenging times.