LIKE LOVE

ESSAYS AND CONVERSATIONS

A revelatory gathering of beloved art and artists presented with distinctive prose.

An exciting new essay collection from the author of The Argonauts and Bluets.

Poet and critic Nelson draws from nearly 20 years of her career to create this perceptive and lively book. She pulls together conversations, critical essays, cultural criticism, and tributes to the artists she loves, including Björk, Eileen Myles, Carolee Schneemann, Hilton Als, and Judith Butler. Featuring her direct and incisive prose, Nelson’s examination of art and the people who make it is poignant and provocative. Her statement that “the art of our lives may not always be exactly where we presume it to be” is an assertion she demonstrates throughout. In assembly, these essays build a quilt of influences, friends, and loved ones. Nelson’s admiration and enthusiasm for her subjects is a palpable driver of joy and delight. Additionally, the author possesses the ability to provide surprise and enchantment, and the chronological arrangement allows recurring themes to emerge and flow across the essays, creating an effective sense of a larger whole. Among the many topics Nelson explores are motherhood, pleasure, literature, violence, music, queerness, liberation, feminism, transgression, and, of course, love. Throughout the book, the author asks insightful, thought-provoking questions about the nature of art: “What does it really mean for a work of art or a body of work to perform a critique? Can images provide—and do we really want them to provide—‘critique’ in the same way that, say, discursive prose does?” In an essay on Nayland Blake, Nelson asks, “How does someone fully inhabit and model a space of generosity, good witchery, and ‘niceness’ while making decidedly ‘not nice’ work? What is the relationship between grimness and pleasure?” The true delight in this winning collection is tracking the development of various themes across years and topics.

A revelatory gathering of beloved art and artists presented with distinctive prose.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781644452813

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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