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Book Title: The Red Parts|
The author of the book: Maggie Nelson
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Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 6.2
The size of the: 13.61 MB
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Edition: Free Press
Date of issue: March 13th 2007
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A more direct Nelson than I'm used to, as she uses her characteristic analytic prose to discuss the trial of her aunt's murderer, the dissolution of a treasured relationship, and the death of her father. Much is fascinating here (though Nelson doesn't NEED an interesting subject to write interestingly, and in some ways I like her best when she makes small details sing). The court-case, shown in graphic, disturbing detail, takes place in 2005, but her aunt was murdered in 1969. Nelson is so intimately involved because she has just released a book of poetry that had information that police didn't know. This allows for examinations of time related to grief, inherited loss (Nelson never knew her aunt), and the way art can interplay with the brutality of life. All of this is very Nelson.
This book preceded her more fractured autobiographical books (BLUETS, THE ARGONAUTS), and I think it might make an ideal gateway drug for those who are interested in her stylings. The death of her father and her sister's rebellious reaction is mentioned often in the later works, and I somewhat regret not reading her consecutively. On the other hand, this is the weakest of the three books. The court case, though interesting, doesn't quite crescendo, since Nelson doesn't learn the answer to the most intriguing question (why was there a drop of a 4 year old's blood on her aunt's body?). This is not her fault, of course, but the narrative is set up around this question, which is dropped.
The writing about her family is accomplished and good, and I especially enjoyed how she treated her break-up. There's a marvelous scene in which she lies on the railway tracks on a wintry night, and proceeds to detail other times she went to the ground. It is also often very funny - the constant presence of television cameras lets her engage with the ludicrous role of media in trauma. This is the birth of a style that I love, and for that alone it's worth reading, but it's the unusual book that I would recommend to either true crime fans or Nelson lovers. In straddling that line, a tiny bit is lost, but it's also easy to see why THE RED PARTS made such a stir.
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Read information about the authorMaggie Nelson is the author of nine books of poetry and prose, many of which have become cult classics defying categorization. Her nonfiction titles include the National Book Critics Circle Award winner and New York Times bestseller The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015), The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (Norton, 2011; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Bluets (Wave Books, 2009; named by Bookforum as one of the top 10 best books of the past 20 years), The Red Parts (Free Press, 2007; reissued by Graywolf, 2016), and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (U of Iowa Press, 2007). Her poetry titles include Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007) and Jane: A Murder (Soft Skull, 2005; finalist for the PEN/ Martha Albrand Art of the Memoir). In 2016 she was awarded a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. She has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction, an NEA in Poetry, an Innovative Literature Fellowship from Creative Capital, and an Arts Writers Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation. She writes frequently on art, including recent catalogue essays on Carolee Schneemann and Matthew Barney. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and has taught literature, writing, art, criticism and theory at the New School, Pratt Institute, and Wesleyan University. For 12 years she taught in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts; in fall 2017 she will join the faculty of USC. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
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