A recursive prose-poem contemplating addiction, dance, and the need for pathbreaking art. . . . [Fusselman’s] layering of her thematic ideas gives the book the feel of a mood piece—like a Steve Reich composition where riffs phase in and out—which makes it a pleasure on a sensual level.” —Kirkus
“. . . Fusselman bounds with great dexterity from theme to theme—covering topics including addiction, motherhood, gender, and art—until she has transformed the traditional essay into something far wilder and more alive." — Publishers Weekly , starred review “There is no mind quite like Amy Fusselman’s, and to be allowed inside it via these deft, singular, surprising sentences is to enter a vibrant wonderland where everything is new and nothing is a bore.” —Elisa Albert
“Amy Fusselman’s compact, beautifully digressive essay feels both surprising and effortless, fueled by broad-ranging curiosity, and, fundamentally, joy.” —The Rumpus “Amy Fusselman is a genius with language, every sentence manages to surprise; they wend themselves into your brain—your everything, really.” —Nylon, “46 Great Books To Read This Summer”
“ Idiophone projects a cheerful, enlivening sense of the author meditation on the fly, slinging everything but the kitchen sink (and maybe that, too) at her art . . .” —Women’s Review of Books
“Idiophone is about The Nutcracker, alcoholism, parenthood, adult childhood, frustration, meaning making, queerness, writing, two mice in a VW bug and a drunk cockroach, dying, luck, accidents, and laughter, to name only some of what it touches upon, but it is also about the simultaneous and permanent irreconcilable difficulty of being a world within the world.” —The Believer “In the one-woman ballet that is Idiophone, Amy Fusselman dances sensationally.” —Arkansas International “One of Fusselman’s great talents has always been the construction of juxtapositions and equivalencies, and in this book, she doesn’t disappoint: a mother is a small iridescent paper circle, an EMT is a baby bunny, alcoholism and maternal ambivalence take their places next to stacks of pancakes and a fourteen-foot-tall sculpture from Vanuatu. In outrageously simple, inexplicably tender prose, Fusselman presses on her nouns until they break, and then, after denotation is no longer their most important job, they perform quite a bit of unexpected and marvelous work. This book is going to haunt me.” —Sarah Manguso “I’m hesitant to offer too much detail about this marvelous, necessary essay because a major part of Idiophone ’s glory lies within its many surprises. What a joy to never quite know where the next page—the next line even—will take you! Yet, since all the book’s curvy beelines of thought spring from the deft hand of a fantastic stylist, Idiophone also showcases a palpable and idiosyncratic control. Reader, make yourself ready for a love letter to motherhood, for an examination of the limits of performance, and for a battle cry to experimental voices—all of it powered writing that pirouettes to its own fabulous music.” —Elena Passarello, author and Nutcracker enthusiast
“This small and beautiful book about feminism and motherhood and art is perfect for those of us who like thinking outside of the box when we’re looking for something lovely to read.” —Vulture “This book, about ballet and beauty, philosophy and family, reinforces Amy Fusselman’s status as one of our best interrogators of how we live now, and how we should live. As always, Fusselman asks tough questions and answers them with rare lyricism and candor.” —Dave Eggers “Fusselman’s prose has the delicate, tensile musculature of a ballet dancer, and the best thing you can do for yourself is surrender to it, let Fusselman take you where she wants to go, and then allow yourself to spring off the platform she has provided.” —Nylon “Fusselman’s leaps from Tchaikovsky’s sexuality, to terror, to a rabbit in a hat, to fear of magic, to an exciting moment in the mother-and-mice subplot, is something to behold.” —Michigan Quarterly Review
“Fusselman’s writing feels like a scroll unfurling page by page, and the connections she makes here are surprising and delightful. This book is a place where anything can happen.” —Village Voice “Toward the end of Fusselman’s luminous new lyric essay creation, Idiophone, she writes: ‘To see it all at once like in a mirror, to be in one world and to multiply . . .’ and that comes pretty close to the overall mood of this weird, playful, and sometimes gloomy book. It feels sharply focused and almost suffocating at times while there are some moments that feel scattershot and a little off the rails—like the narrator is trying to show you the whole world. Going from the interior worlds of The Nutcracker to her relationship with her mom, Fusselman (one of my favorite people in the book world, I have to admit) investigates the various stagings and preconceptions of art (including quilting!) and being human. A refreshingly wild and ambitious essay that looks like an epic poem but reads like a speeding train set driven by mice, Idiophone is some strange magic.” —Kevin Sampsell of Powell’s “ Idiophone is about the various ways in which humans—especially humans who, having reached the middle of their journey, are entering the dark wood—use alcohol, magic, imagination, and art to access at least the possibility of a transcendence in which they no longer believe. A furious, necessary, convincing rejuvenation of writer and reader, not to mention a brilliant reading of and against The Nutcracker.” —David Shields “When I try to describe this book to people, I honestly leave them with their mouths agape.” —WICN’s Inquiry “No one acrobats between beauty, confession, rueful humor, and deep insight with such amazing trapeze-y ease as Amy Fusselman.” —John Hodgman Praise for Amy Fusselman “In this memorable, beautifully structured book, [Fusselman] gives us more than ironic asides or a catalog of her pop-culture . . . she makes the world strange again, a place where dying and making life are equally mysterious and miraculous activities.” — Time Out New York “Fusselman’s conversational, intimate voice and heartfelt musings charm the reader. In less than 100 pages she movingly conjures an impressive emotional depth and range, making The Pharmacist’s Mate seem like a much longer work.” — San Francisco Chronicle “This sweet, sincere story of Fusselman’s attempts to get pregnant by artificial insemination and to come to terms with her father’s death is told in a wholly original epigrammatic style.” — Vogue “Ms. Fusselman’s book affected me deeply. The talent displayed therein was unnerving.” —Zadie Smith “A fascinating and daresay essential meditation on childhood, parenthood, and the importance of wild spaces for those wild creatures known as kids.” —Dave Eggers “I yield to no one in my admiration for Amy Fusselman’s work. Her new book, Savage Park , further explores with astonishing power, eloquence, precision, and acid humor her obsessive, necessary theme: the gossamer-thin separation between life and death.” —David Shields “In this unusually refreshing meditation (which reads like a novel), we are given a tour of the space around and within us. With poetic efficiency Amy Fusselman reveals what makes us savage or not; why secret, wild spaces are essential; and why playing should be taken seriously.” —Philippe Petit, high-wire artist
A recursive prose-poem contemplating addiction, dance, and the need for pathbreaking art.In her latest, Fusselman (Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die, 2015, etc.) focuses on breaking with artistic tradition, and structurally, she tries to practice what she preaches. Though she doesn't play with line breaks, she often deploys a one-sentence-per-paragraph method that gives a poetic aura to her observations—e.g., "Now my mother is frail. Now my mother is getting smaller. Now my mother's bed is moving and she cannot sleep." The author uses the object of the title—an instrument that sounds when struck—as a slippery metaphor for her art and being, encompassing her risk-taking as a drinker to Tchaikovsky's open-minded approach to composing The Nutcracker. The work is interspersed with imagery of mice, cockroaches, bunnies, and tiny vehicles, serving as an allegories of drinking, the author's tense relationship with her mother, and Tchaikovsky, too. Well, maybe; if it all doesn't entirely make sense, that serves her purpose just fine: "Why can't more authors just abandon their lumbering storylines halfway through and move on to something more interesting, like dancing candy?" It's not a hollow provocation: The best pieces of the work explore how The Nutcracker, now a drowsy Yuletide warhorse, was a radical creative act, inviting a rare dreamlike perspective to the stage, envisioning a blend of word and movement that, one interviewee tells Fusselman, died at the hands of the modernists. The author's layering of her thematic ideas gives the book the feel of a mood piece—like a Steve Reich composition where riffs phase in and out—which makes it a pleasure on a sensual level. However, because she never lingers long on any one idea, readers may feel that there is much more to be said about motherhood, alcoholism, art, and physicality than is being delivered.A curious and lyrical study that touches on many important ideas, but often only glancingly.