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About Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson is the author of several books in multiple genres. Her six books of nonfiction include On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint (Graywolf Press, 2021), The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015), global best-seller and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; a landmark work of cultural, art, and literary criticism titled The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (Norton, 2011), which was named a NY Times Notable Book of the Year; the cult classic Bluets (Wave Books, 2009), which was named by Bookforum one of the 10 best books of the past 20 years; a memoir about her family, media spectacle, and sexual violence titled The Red Parts (originally published by Free Press in 2007, reissued by Graywolf in 2016); and a critical study of painting and poetry titled Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa, 2007; winner, the Susanne M. Glassock Award for Interdisciplinary Scholarship). Her books of poetry include Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007), Jane: A Murder (Soft Skull, 2005; finalist, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir), The Latest Winter (Hanging Loose Press, 2003), and Shiner (Hanging Loose, 2001). She has been the recipient of a Creative Capital Literature Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, and an Andy Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant. In 2016 she received a MacArthur "genius" grant. She writes frequently about art, and currently teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
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Books By Maggie Nelson
Winner, 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism
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 centre is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes the author’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal 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 for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.
Maggie Nelson is a poet, a critic, and the author of several nonfiction books, including The Red Parts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, and Jane: A Murder. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles, California.
‘A superb exploration of the risk and the excitement of change…An exceptional portrait both of a romantic partnership and of the collaboration between Nelson’s mind and heart.’ New Yorker
‘Maggie Nelson slays entrenched notions of gender, marriage and sexuality with lyricism, intellectual brass and soul-ringing honesty.’ Vanity Fair
‘A magnificent achievement of thought, care and art.’ Los Angeles Times
‘Nelson’s writing is fluid—to read her story is to drift dreamily among her thoughts…She masterfully analyzes the way we talk about sex and gender.’ Huffington Post
‘One of the most intelligent, generous and moving books of the year.’ STARRED review Publishers Weekly
‘A book that will challenge readers as much as the author has challenged herself.’ STARRED review Kirkus Reviews
‘So much writing about motherhood makes the world seem smaller after the child arrives, more circumscribed, as if in tacit fealty to the larger cultural assumptions about moms and domesticity; Nelson’s book does the opposite.’ New York Times Book Review
‘A thought-provoking and fascinating read.’ Otago Daily Times
‘A wonderful genre-disregarding beast…Nelson has created a work that lets the reader into the intimate world of her love partnership and family, as well as engaging the intellect.’ Readings
‘I thought about copying down whole passages...Nelson’s writing about gender is pretty wonderful. The reflexivity and circularity of her work resists over-simplifications.’ Lifted Brow
‘A song of praise for everyday, ordinary suburban life and simple pleasures.’ Herald Sun
‘An extraordinary record of a life that could only have been written in the early 21st century…[Nelson] is thoughtful, provoking and concise.
**A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2021**
*A GUARDIAN AND TLS 'BOOKS OF 2021' PICK*
'One of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation' - Olivia Laing
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.
Selected as a Book of the Year 2017 in the Guardian
'Maggie Nelson’s short, singular books feel pretty light in the hand... But in the head and the heart, they seem unfathomably vast, their cleverness and odd beauty lingering on' Observer
In 1969, Jane Mixer, a first-year law student at the University of Michigan, posted a note on a student noticeboard to share a lift back to her hometown of Muskegon for spring break. She never made it: she was brutally murdered, her body found a few miles from campus the following day.
The Red Parts is Maggie Nelson’s singular account of her aunt Jane’s death, and the trial that took place some 35 years afterward. Officially unsolved for decades, the case was reopened in 2004 after a DNA match identified a new suspect, who would soon be arrested and tried. In 2005, Nelson found herself attending the trial, and reflecting with fresh urgency on our relentless obsession with violence, particularly against women.
Resurrecting her interior world during the trial – in all its horror, grief, obsession, recklessness, scepticism and downright confusion – Maggie Nelson has produced a work of profound integrity and, in its subtle indeterminacy, deadly moral precision.
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.
Jane explores the nature of this haunting incident via a collage of poetry, prose, dream-accounts, and documentary sources, including local and national newspapers, related “true crime” books such as The Michigan Murders and Killer Among Us, and fragments from Jane's own diaries written when she was 13 and 21. Its eight sections cover Jane's childhood and early adulthood, her murder and its investigation, the direct and diffuse effect of her death on Nelson's girlhood and sisterhood, and a trip to Michigan Nelson took with her mother (Jane's sister) to retrace the path of Jane's final hours.
Dès l’ouverture de son livre, Maggie Nelson souligne cette contradiction au centre de tous les débats actuels entre le soin (care) et la liberté. Quelle notion plus caractéristique des oppositions à l’œuvre dans nos sociétés que celle de liberté, idéal revendiqué comme un cri de ralliement, par des camps que tout oppose ? La liberté reste-t-elle la clé de notre autonomie, de notre justice, de notre bien-être, ou représente-t-elle la fin d’une étoile qui a trop longtemps brillé ? L’obsession collective pour la notion de liberté est-elle toujours synonyme d’émancipation, ou d’un nihilisme de plus en plus profond (ou les deux) ? Comment expliquer que la liberté soit désormais l’étendard du populisme et du puritanisme ?
Dans son nouvel essai, De la liberté, Maggie Nelson nous offre, en s’appuyant sur un vaste corpus, de la théorie critique à la culture populaire, une manière de penser et d’interroger notre propre liberté. Dans la lignée des Argonautes et de son écriture à la fois réflexive et intime, nous retrouvons toute la singularité de celle qui est devenue, au fil des années, une icône de la pensée. Elle convoque et déconstruit les débats du monde de l’art, l’héritage complexe de la libération sexuelle, les douloureux paradoxes de l’attrait du désespoir face au changement climatique. Passionnant, déroutant, nuancé et courageux, De la liberté confronte le lecteur à ses propres contradictions.
À travers une série de collages de poèmes, sources documentaires, fragments du journal intime de sa tante, brèves dans des journaux et enquête sur les traces de la disparue, Maggie Nelson explore la nature de ce fait divers, le dernier en date d’une macabre série d’assassinats perpétrés dans la région. Dans cette grande œuvre écrite sous forme de long poème, l’autrice éclaire l’ombre portée sur son passé, et interroge ces fantômes qui peuplent nos vies et que l’on tait. Elle crée une forme hybride et poétique qui impose une réalité brutale au silence pesant, la juge, la confronte et la fait plier par l’écriture. L’ouvrage présent réunit deux livres de Maggie Nelson dans un volume tête-bêche. Jane, un meurtre, enquête poétique sur la disparue. Une partie rouge, au verso, démarre à l’instant où la police annonce l’arrestation d’un suspect et la tenue d’un procès.
Cet ensemble que l’on pourrait nommer “Le livre de Jane” est un document littéraire unique sur un féminicide et sur la violence à l’œuvre dans nos sociétés.
Something Bright, Then Holes explores the problem of losing then recovering sight and insight – of feeling lost, then found, then lost again. The book's three sections range widely, and include a long sequence of Niedecker-esque meditations written at the shore of a polluted urban canal, a harrowing long poem written at a friend's hospital bedside, and a series of unsparing, crystalline lyrics honoring the conjoined forces of love and sorrow.
Whatever the style, the poems are linked by Nelson's singular poetic voice, as sly and exacting as it is raw. The collection is a testament to Nelson's steadfast commitment to chart the facts of feeling, whatever they are, and at whatever the cost.
In this, her second anthology of poetry, Maggie Nelson experiments with poetic forms long and short as she charts intimate landscapes, including the poet's enmeshment in a beloved city-New York-before and after the events of 9/11. The poems of The Latest Winter are rich with wit, melancholy, terror, curiosity, and love.