The Lyric Essay

Appropos of the fact that I'm reading (& very much enjoying) Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, I'll link to this appreciation of Bluets, a book I think David Shields would very much approve of. From the appreciation:

If I could come to everyone’s house and hand them a copy of Bluets, I would. It’s a slim book of two hundred and forty short, numbered paragraphs, “propositions.” It may be an extended lyric essay; it might be safe to say it is a meditation on the color blue, but that probably wouldn’t prepare you; it concerns loneliness, fucking, is haunted by blue tarps, discusses bowerbirds, touches down on Goethe and Wittgenstein, Novalis and Isaac Newton (I think even Derrida is mentioned—does this sound pretentious? It’s far from pretentious; it’s the opposite of pretentious; it’s the most straight human thing I’ve read.).

It’s an impossible book to describe without simply handing it to you . . .

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I can’t help but echo this, since I published two of Maggie’s books (Jane and Something Bright, Then Holes) and one of David’s books (Enough About You). Their projects have some overlap. Note that Wayne Koestenbaum is a big advocate of both writers/projects…


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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