A Year in Reading: Eula Biss

December 4, 2014 | 3 books mentioned

covercovercoverIn her poetry collection The Pedestrians, Rachel Zucker writes of a woman who is reading a novel about another woman: “The voice gets into her head” and “her thoughts have become inflected and unfamiliar.” That’s the extraordinary intimacy of reading, the penetration of one consciousness by another. “This is now the only way she leaves her city,” writes Zucker. The opportunity to think with another mind is also my preferred mode of travel. I like where I go, for instance, when I read David Trinidad’s Peyton Place, which is composed of one haiku for every episode of the soap opera. When my thinking is inflected by his wit, television is transformed into poetry and bad hair and tight slacks become the stuff of art. And I like where I go when I read Maggie Nelson’s forthcoming essay The Argonauts – I like it so much that I keep reading it again and again so that I can keep going there. Nelson offers a philosophical stance, an ethical posture, an attitude toward life that is joyous to inhabit. When I leave her meditations on family-making and queerness, I feel buoyed in my own efforts toward family-making and radical difference.

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is the author of On Immunity: An InoculationNotes from No Man's Land: American Essays, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and The Balloonists. Her essays have appeared in Harper's and the Believer, and in the Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Best Creative Nonfiction. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Howard Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and she has won the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Biss teaches at Northwestern University and lives in Chicago.

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