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About Maggie Nelson
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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. It binds an account of Nelson's relationship with her partner and a journey to and through a pregnancy to a rigorous exploration of sexuality, gender, and "family." An insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.
Late in 2004, Maggie Nelson was looking forward to the publication of her book Jane: A Murder, a narrative in verse about the life and death of her aunt, who had been murdered thirty-five years before. The case remained unsolved, but Jane was assumed to have been the victim of an infamous serial killer in Michigan in 1969.
Then, one November afternoon, Nelson received a call from her mother, who announced that the case had been reopened; a new suspect would be arrested and tried on the basis of a DNA match. Over the months that followed, Nelson found herself attending the trial with her mother and reflecting anew on the aura of dread and fear that hung over her family and childhood--an aura that derived not only from the terrible facts of her aunt's murder but also from her own complicated journey through sisterhood, daughterhood, and girlhood.
The Red Parts is a memoir, an account of a trial, and a provocative essay that interrogates the American obsession with violence and missing white women, and that scrupulously explores the nature of grief, justice, and empathy.
Part elegy, part true crime story, this memoir-in-verse from the author of the award-winning The Argonauts expands the notion of how we tell stories and what form those stories take through the story of a murdered woman and the mystery surrounding her last hours.
Jane tells the spectral story of the life and death of Maggie Nelson’s aunt Jane, who was murdered in 1969 while a first-year law student at the University of Michigan. Though officially unsolved, Jane’s murder was apparently the third in a series of seven brutal rape-murders in the area between 1967 and 1969. Nelson was born a few years after Jane’s death, and the narrative is suffused with the long shadow her murder cast over both the family and her psyche.
Exploring 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.
Each piece in Jane has its own form, and the movement from each piece to the next—along with the white space that surrounds each fragment—serve as important fissures, disrupting the tabloid, “page-turner” quality of the story, and eventually returning the reader to deeper questions about girlhood, empathy, identification, and the essentially unknowable aspects of another’s life and death. Equal parts a elegy, memoir, detective story, meditation on violence (and serial, sexual violence in particular), and conversation between the living and the dead, Jane’s powerful and disturbing subject matter, combined with its innovations in genre, shows its readers what poetry is capable of—what kind of stories it can tell, and how it can tell them.
"This is criticism at its best." —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
Writing in the tradition of Susan Sontag and Elaine Scarry, Maggie Nelson has emerged as one of our foremost cultural critics with this landmark work about representations of cruelty and violence in art. From Sylvia Plath’s poetry to Francis Bacon’s paintings, from the Saw franchise to Yoko Ono’s performance art, Nelson’s nuanced exploration across the artistic landscape ultimately offers a model of how one might balance strong ethical convictions with an equally strong appreciation for work that tests the limits of taste, taboo, and permissibility.
‘Maggie Nelson is one of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation’
In this electrifying and raw debut anthology, Maggie Nelson unpicks the everyday with the quick alchemy and precision of her later modern classics The Argonauts and Bluets. The poems of Shiner experiment with a variety of styles—syllabic verse, sonnets, macaronic translation, Zen poems, walking poems—to express love, bewilderment, grief, and beauty. This book, Nelson’s first, heralded the arrival of a fully formed, virtuoso voice.
‘Maggie Nelson is one of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation'
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.