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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.
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.
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Jonathan Williams’s poetry has been described as brilliant, sensuous, lyrical, quirky, suave, vital, joyful, sardonic, melodious, passionate, alive, pyrotechnic. This new, much enlarged edition of Blues and Roots displays all of the above. Williams has tramped the Appalachian Trail for decades, botanizing, jotting down specimens of authentic American speech, graffiti, superstitions, and nostrums—always curious, alert, and affectionately attentive. Blues and Roots focuses on the linguistic horizon of Appalachia in lyrics of wonder and light, of wit and comic incongruity, in found poems of the speech of his mountain neighbors. Publishers Weekly said of the earlier edition, “One of the most beautiful and evocative tributes to the Appalachians and its people yet published.” Blues and Roots is a fine celebration; Wiliams is a joyful ringmaster.
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.
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author's relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making. Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson's insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.