I'll probably never stop talking about Maggie Nelson's genius. If you've met me while I'm working, you've heard me wax on about her gift for language, for conveying beauty in suffering, and her incredible embrace of the everyday cruelties and joys of life. But, somehow, I hadn't gotten around to reading Something Bright, Then Holes until this summer, when I spent a day of my pre-grad school purgatory sweltering in my childhood backyard and reading this book. I've spent much of my mid-twenties trying to describe the complex-but-everyday emotions of being. I found such relief in Nelson's ability to do just that. Her talent for putting universal situations backed by complex emotions into stunning, musical prose is heart-wrenching, and for that, this collection wins my pick for my favorite read of 2018. - Julia
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.
About the Author
Maggie Nelson is the author of nine books of poetry and prose, including the National Books Critics Circle Award winner The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, The Red Parts, and Jane: A Murder. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, an Innovative Literature Fellowship from Creative Capital, and an Arts Writers Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation. In 2016, she was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. She lives in Los Angeles.
“Nelson’s newest collection continues the genre dodging of her second poetry collection, Jane: A Mystery [sic]. Narrative, sentimental and self-indulgent, this third collection risks many possible poetic pitfalls and comes through unscathed through sheer intensity of and commitment to her voice. Over three sections, Nelson employs a consistent narrator, recognizable settings, recurring characters and a few structures closely resembling plots. But it’s not fiction. And though each section also has lines, stanzas, and lyric musicality, it’s poetry only in a very loose sense. Instead, it’s a stunning collection of real-world stories shadowed by the netherworld of poetry.”—Publishers Weekly
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