Buyer's Corner: Keaton Talks Essays
It's said that truth is stranger than fiction. But, in the hands of skilled essayist, it can also be more critical, insightful, confrontational, and well...curious. From mirror-gazing to interesting animals, here's a selection of some of the innovative and genre-bending works of creative nonfiction to consider next time you're perusing our essays section.
300 ARGUMENTS by Sarah Manguso
Sarah Manguso is a master of the minimalist form. She can do more with a sentence than many authors can do with an entire book. In this collection of brief ruminations, she covers everything from sex and mortality, to ambition, mental illness, writing, desire, and motherhood. These "arguments" are aphoristic gems, in which a seemingly random thought is hardened into a bold, cutting, crystalline truth. There is no exposition. Manguso lets these minute statements stand on their own, and the reader is left with nowhere to hide from direct engagement with a most remarkable literary mind.
BLUETS by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson is a writer who knows no bounds. You can find her works all over Brazos--from essays to memoirs to art history to poetry and beyond. Yet it is this slight book, a lyrical ode to the color blue that doubles as her own bildungsroman, that made every single bookseller at Brazos fall in love with her writing. Unflinchingly candid and highly intelligent, you can't make a wrong step in choosing one of Nelson's titles. But there is perhaps no better introduction to this titan of criticism than is unforgettable little book.
THE FACE: A TIME CODE by Ruth Ozeki
Author, filmmaker, Zen Buddhist priest, and all around badass Ruth Ozeki kicks off the inaugural installment in Restless Books stunning essay series, THE FACE. Taking the basic concept of "the face" quite literally, she decides to stare into a mirror for three unbroken hours, writing whatever comes to her mind. It may seem slight, but in Ozeki's hands this simple act of mirror-gazing becomes a potent contemplation of the intersections between identity, race, time, and Japanese Noh Theatre. There are few writers as playful, insightful and inventive as Ruth Ozeki. And she only writes a book every five years or so. So, get it while you can!
ANIMALS STRIKE CURIOUS POSES by Elena Passarello
Yeah, I've made no secret about my admiration for every word Elena Passarello commits to paper. She is quite simply one of the most enjoyable and original voices of contemporary nonfiction. This collection of unique animal-human interactions throughout history is not to be missed. If you need more convincing, Mr. Ed makes an appearance. And if you need even more, just revisit my video recommendation for it in last month's Buyer's Corner.
(End note: I did not notice until after compiling this list that I chose all women authors for this Buyer's Corner. It was not intended but maybe inevitable. What is to be said other than some of the most intriguing writing coming out these days is by women? Does that surprise you? Well, maybe just get over yourself and read more women.)