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LIVE ON CROWDCAST: WAYNE KOESTENBAUM reads from his new essay collection, FIGURE IT OUT, with MAGGIE NELSON

*Please note: This event will take place live on Crowdcast. RSVP here to save your seat!

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Figure It Out (Soft Skull Press)

“Toward what goal do I aspire, ever, but collision? Always accident, concussion, bodies butting together . . . By collision I also mean metaphor and metonymy: operations of slide
and slip and transfuse.”

In his new nonfiction collection, poet, artist, critic, novelist, and performer Wayne Koestenbaum enacts twenty-six ecstatic collisions between his mind and the world. A subway passenger’s leather bracelet prompts musings on the German word for “stranger”; Montaigne leads to the memory of a fourth-grade friend’s stinky feet. Wayne dreams about a handjob from John Ashbery, swims next to Nicole Kidman, reclaims Robert Rauschenberg’s squeegee, and apotheosizes Marguerite Duras as a destroyer of sentences. He directly proposes assignments to readers: “Buy a one-dollar cactus, and start anthropomorphizing it. Call it Sabrina.” “Describe an ungenerous or unkind act you have committed.” “Find in every orgasm an encyclopedic richness . . . Reimagine doing the laundry as having an orgasm, and reinterpret orgasm as not a tiny experience, temporally limited, occurring in a single human body, but as an experience that somehow touches on all of human history.” Figure It Out is both a guidebook for, and the embodiment of, the practices of pleasure, attentiveness, art, and play.

Advance Praise:

”Does contemporary American literature offer any greater pleasure than the polymorphous brilliance of Wayne Koestenbaum? These essays are extraordinary.” — Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness

“‘Imagine, then, an ecology of language,’ Wayne Koestenbaum writes. He creates one of magical abundance here. Instincts and insights flourish, as do ideas and sensations. He speculates, he
cogitates, he provokes and delights. He’s a scamp, he’s a seer, and he’s a virtuoso.”  —Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland

Wayne Koestenbaum is a poet, critic, and artist. His books include The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an IconMy 1980s and Other EssaysHumiliationHotel TheoryThe Pink Trance Notebooks; and Camp Marmalade. He lives in New York City, where he is a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center. His website is waynekoestenbaum.com.

Maggie Nelson is the author of nine books of poetry and prose, including the National Book Critics Circle Award winner The ArgonautsThe Art of Cruelty: A ReckoningBluetsThe 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.

Event date: 
Monday, July 6, 2020 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Figure It Out: Essays Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781593765958
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull Press - May 5th, 2020

Circus: Or, Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes: A Novel Cover Image
By Wayne Koestenbaum, Rachel Kushner (Introduction by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781593764869
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull Press - July 9th, 2019

My 1980s and Other Essays Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780374533779
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: FSG Originals - August 13th, 2013

Humiliation (BIG IDEAS//small books) Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780312429225
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
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Shiner Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9781786994653
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Zed Books - September 15th, 2018

The Latest Winter Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9781786994691
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Zed Books - September 15th, 2018

Something Bright, Then Holes: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781593762308
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull Press - June 12th, 2018

Jane: A Murder Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781593766580
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull Press - September 13th, 2016

The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 5th, 2016

The Argonauts Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781555977351
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - January 26th, 2016

The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393343144
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 13th, 2012

Bluets Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781933517407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wave Books - October 1st, 2009