siri-hustvedt

'I think about your thighs,' he wrote in the second letter, 'and the warm, moist smell of your skin in the morning, and the tiny eyelash in each corner of your eye that I always notice when you first roll over to look at me. I don’t know why you are better and more beautiful than anybody else. I don’t know why your body is something I can’t stop thinking about, why those little flaws and ridges on your back are lovely to me or why the pale soft bottoms of your New Jersey feet that always wore shoes are more poignant than any other feet, but they are. I thought I would have more time to chart your body, to map its poles, its contours and terrains, its inner regions, both temperate and torrid - a whole topography of skin and muscle and bone. I didn’t tell you, but I imagined a lifetime as your cartographer, years of exploration and discovery that would keep changing the look of my map. It would always need to be redrawn and reconfigured to keep up with you. I’m sure I’ve missed things, Bill, or forgotten them, because half the time I’ve been wandering around your body blind drunk with happiness. There are still places I haven’t seen.'
—  Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
'I think about your thighs,' he wrote in the second letter,and the warm, moist smell of your skin in the morning, and the tiny eyelash in each corner of your eye that I always notice when you first roll over to look at me. I don’t know why you are better and more beautiful than anybody else. I don’t know why your body is something I can’t stop thinking about, why those little flaws and ridges on your back are lovely to me or why the pale soft bottoms of your New Jersey feet that always wore shoes are more poignant than any other feet, but they are. I thought I would have more time to chart your body, to map its poles, its contours and terrains, its inner regions, both temperate and torrid - a whole topography of skin and muscle and bone. I didn’t tell you, but I imagined a lifetime as your cartographer, years of exploration and discovery that would keep changing the look of my map. It would always need to be redrawn and reconfigured to keep up with you. I’m sure I’ve missed things..or forgotten them, because half the time I’ve been wandering around your body blind drunk with happiness. There are still places I haven’t seen.
—  Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
I think about your thighs," she wrote in the second letter, "and the warm, moist smell of your skin in the morning, and the tiny eyelash in each corner of your eye that I always notice when you first roll over to look at me. I don’t know why you are better and more beautiful than anybody else. I don’t know why your body is something I can’t stop thinking about, why those little flaws and ridges on your back are lovely to me or why the pale soft bottoms of your New Jersey feet that always wore shoes are more poignant than any other feet, but they are. I thought I would have more time to chart your body, to map its poles, its contours and terrains, its inner regions, both temperate and torrid - a whole topography of skin and muscle and bone. I didn’t tell you, but I imagined a lifetime as your cartographer, years of exploration and discovery that would keep changing the look of my map. It would always need to be redrawn and reconfigured to keep up with you. I’m sure I’ve missed things, Bill, or forgotten them, because half the time I’ve been wandering around your body blind drunk with happiness. There are still places I haven’t seen.
—  Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
5

Go Book Yourself: Anna’s Top 5 Books of 2014

Our Recommendations Editor Anna James gives her top picks of the year…

How to be Both by Ali Smith for a nimble, playful and deeply affecting novel in two halves.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison for a book of narrative essays that will get under your skin.

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt for an intricate, intelligent and profoundly moving literary novel.

In the Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman for a jaw-droppingly creative epic that revels in linguistic playfulness.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel for a genre-defying, unputdownable love letter to humanity.

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Libraries are sexual dream factories. The languor brings it on. The body must adjust its position—a leg crossed, a palm leaned upon, a back stretched—but the body is going nowhere. The reading and the looking up from one’s reading brings it on; the mind leaves the book and meanders onto a thigh or an elbow, real or imagined. The gloom of the stacks brings it on with tis suggestion of the hidden. The dry odor of paper and bindings and very possibly the smell of old glue bring it on.
—  From The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt.
I got a PhD in English Literature. I read my brains out, and that can be very intimidating. [Laughter] You know what’s out there. You know how good it is. You know how not as good you are. Sometime in my 20s, I let go. I stopped worrying about the fact that I wasn’t Emily Dickinson or James Joyce. It just wasn’t going to happen, you know? But you can still become an artist. You can still do whatever it is that you do.
—  More Siri Hustvedt. Read the rest of her Powells.com interview.
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I bore by now of “gender,” talk tired. For this, I almost missed “The Blazing World.” Were it not the only new book around one week, I wouldn’t have read it. Then, I wouldn’t have recommended it, and received such big thanks, again and again. The book, a novel, is on gender (and sex and money, race, sanity, art, fame, family…), but given it’s fiction it does this cool thing, which is show rather than tell of bodily complexity. Hype author Elena Ferrante does this too, and what a fucking relief. I get the import of discourses on performativity and income disparity and affective labor and on, but the talk does tire; repetitive vocabulary smothers force of meaning…

Wrote about a reassuring lol of a novel (rest here).

The Blazing World is really like a sequel to Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers. The time/place fits, Blazing being set in the eighties, nineties & early oughts, & in New York (SoHo, Red Hook), in the Art World; Flamethrowers is seventies, same place, same economy, same woman in a man’s world protagonist. Blazing is about a woman artist & all the ways she is pegged by her body (very tall). It’s about the socio-cultural baggage of self we internalize, about not being sure what’s inside/outside, imagined/real, about playing with those oppositions. Phenomenology. The book is infuriating & funny—cathartic. I feel this book is under-appreciated for the same reasons the protagonist believes her art is, which is that it’s made by a she about that tired topic of gender. At least that’s why I almost didn’t read it—the gender bit. I was like yeah yeah I know what that’s all about. But this is a fine show. Thanks for the book mom!

Join us on July 29 to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way.

Against the backdrop of the East River and the Manhattan skyline, hear excerpts from one of the most important works of modern literature read by Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, The Paris Review editor Lorin Stein, Carmela Ciuraru, and Damion Searls.

More information on the reading here. See you there!