Maggie Nelson

  • culture June 06, 2013

    Bough Down by Karen Green

    Upon first read, Bough Down feels disorienting and surreal — like entering a drugged wormhole of grief, pills, and barely tolerable engrams and emotions, which appear via allegory, hallucination, synecdoche, and blur. Upon rereading, however, the bones of the book’s structure become admirably clear. “June, black // Does it begin like this?” Green hovers at the start, before plunging into the day of Wallace’s death, her experience of finding his body, her dealings with the police, and the haze of public commemorations. (I’m feeling free in this review to use “Green” and “Wallace” instead of the

  • syllabi November 18, 2009

    On Color

    “To attend to colour,” writes David Batchelor, “is, in part, to attend to the limits of language.” Perhaps this is why so much writing on color is sadly unsatisfying: The temptation to make wistful, even lugubrious pronouncements on color’s ineffability proves great; barring that, many writers, from William Gass (On Being Blue) to Alexander Theroux (The Primary Colors, The Secondary Colors), revert to exalted forms of cataloging. What is there to say in the face of color, a visual phenomenon that so often seems to elude linguistic expression? A lot, it turns out, in the right hands—especially