Something Bright, Then Holes

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Paperback | 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.25 inches | ISBN 9781593762308
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These days
the world seems to split up
into those who need to dredge
and those who shrug their shoulders
and say, It’s just something
that happened.

While Maggie Nelson refers here to a polluted urban waterway, the Gowanus Canal, these words could just as easily describe Nelson’s incisive approach to desire, heartbreak, and emotional excavation in Something Bright, Then Holes. Whether writing from the debris-strewn shores of a contaminated canal or from the hospital room of a friend, Nelson charts each emotional landscape she encounters with unparalleled precision and empathy. Since its publication in 2007, the collection has proven itself to be both a record of a singular vision in the making as well as a timeless meditation on love, loss, and—perhaps most frightening of all—freedom.

Nelson’s nexus is fluidity: gender, pleasure, desire, and the body are questioned with equal rigor as modality, criticality, and theory. Those concerns are present in Something Bright . . . But in this collection, Nelson’s heady, narcotic philosophizing is underpinned by a more personal vulnerability.

 
The Paris Review
1/10

This re-issue of Nelson’s 2007 collection of poems shows the celebrated author in her most incisive and economic form—a record of a protean talent in the making.

 
Largehearted Boy, Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Book of the Week
2/10

Soft Skull Press has released a gorgeous reissue of Nelson’s Something Bright, Then Holes and, despite being originally published in 2007, it’s easily one of the best books of 2018. . . . Maggie Nelson elicits genuine awe with each turn of the page. . . . Something Bright, Then Holes is candid and heartfelt, blurring the lines between poetry and storytelling fluently and with thoughtful contemplation. These poems swathe their reader and craft a voyeuristic sense of empathy; it’s as if you’re not supposed to be there. Yet, here you are.

 
Popscure
3/10

Maggie Nelson cuts through our culture’s prefabricated structures of thought and feeling with an intelligence whose ferocity is ultimately in the service of love. No piety is safe, no orthodoxy, no easy irony. The scare quotes burn off like fog.

 
—Ben Lerner, author of The Hatred of Poetry and 10:04
4/10

Maggie Nelson’s gorgeous, expansive book of poetry feels like a necessary summer read, not least because of Nelson’s ability to so palpably, grotesquely, beautifully make clear the urgency of love and fucking, as she does in the book’s titular poem.

 
—NYLON, 1 of 46 Great Books to Read This Summer
5/10

It’s Nelson’s articulation of her many selves—the poet who writes prose; the memoirist who considers the truth specious; the essayist whose books amount to a kind of fairy tale, in which the protagonist goes from darkness to light, and then falls in love with a singular knight—that makes her readers feel hopeful.

 
—Hilton Als, The New Yorker
6/10

Maggie Nelson is one of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation.

 
—Olivia Laing, The Guardian
7/10

Over three sections, Nelson employs a consistent narrator, recognizable settings, recurring characters and a few structures closely resembling plots. But it’s not fiction. And though each section also has lines, stanzas, and lyric musicality, it’s poetry only in a very loose sense. Instead, it’s a stunning collection of real-world stories shadowed by the netherworld of poetry.

 
Publishers Weekly
8/10

Maggie Nelson has such drive in her language. Things do not dangle off this drive, but rather get resolutely pushed aside by her poem’s forward motion . . . She delivers the goods with fiendish delight.

 
—Eileen Myles
9/10

Maggie Nelson is one of the most exciting poetic talents of her generation.

 
—Wayne Koestenbaum
10/10

MAGGIE NELSON is the author of nine books of poetry and prose, including the National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, The Red Parts, and Jane: A Murder. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, an Innovative Literature Fellowship from Creative Capital, and an Arts Writers Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation. In 2016, she was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. She lives in Los Angeles.

 

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