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On Looking: Essays [Paperback]

By Lia Purpura (Author)
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Item description for On Looking: Essays by Lia Purpura...

"Purpura is the real deal, and so is every successive sentence in this collection. A cornucopiac vocabulary is married to a strict economy of expression; an offbeat curiosity is married to the courage of difficult witnessing. . . ."--Albert Goldbarth

"Purpura's prose is a system of delicate shocks--leaps and connections and syncopated revelations, all in the service of the spirit negotiating the truth of its experience."--Sven Birkerts

Lia Purpura's daring new book of lyric essays, "On Looking," is concerned with the aesthetics and ethics of seeing. In these elegantly wrought meditations, patterns and meanings emerge from confusion, the commonplace grows strange and complex, beauty reveals its flaws, and even the most repulsive object turns gorgeous. Purpura's hand is clearly guided by poetry and behaves unpredictably, weaving together, in one lit instance, sugar eggs, binoculars, and Emerson's words: "I like the silent church before the sermon begins."
In "Autopsy Report," Purpura takes an intimate look at the ruin of our bodies after death, examining the "dripping fruits" of organs and the spine in its "wet, red earth." A similar reverence is held for the alien jellyfish in "On Form," where she notes that "in order to see their particular beauty...we have to suspend our fear, we have to love contradiction." Her essays question art and its responses as well as its responsibilities, challenge familiar and familial relationships, and alter the borders between the violent and the luminous, the harrowing and the sensual.
Above all, Purpura's essays are a call to notice. She is writer-as-telescope, kaleidoscope, microscope, and mirror. As she says: "By seeing I called to things, and in turn, things called me, applied me to their sight and we became each as treasure, startling to one another, and rare." This is, indeed, a rare and startling treasure of a book.
Lia Purpura is the author of "Increase "(essays), "Stone Sky Lifting" (poems), "The Brighter the Veil" (poems), and "Poems of Grzegorz Musial: Berliner Tagebuch" and "Taste of Ash" (translations). Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Prose, a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship, the Associated Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction, and the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared in Agni, DoubleTake, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She is Writer-in-Residence at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland, and teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA Program in Tacoma, Washington.

Awards and Recognitions
On Looking: Essays by Lia Purpura has received the following awards and recognitions -

  • National Book Critics Circle Award - 2006 Finalist - Criticism category

Citations And Professional Reviews
On Looking: Essays by Lia Purpura has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Booklist - 08/01/2006 page 28
  • Publishers Weekly - 05/29/2006 page 50

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Item Specifications...

Pages   139
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2006
Publisher   Sarabande Books
ISBN  1932511393  
ISBN13  9781932511390  

Availability  0 units.

More About Lia Purpura

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Purpura's Increase won the 2000 AWP Creative Nonfiction Award. Stone Sky Lifting: Poems, won the 2000 Ohio State/The Journal Award. Also the author of The Brighter the Veil (the Towson University Prize in Literature), and Poems of Grzegorz Musial, translated on a Fulbright in Poland, Purpura teaches at Loyola in Baltimore and at the Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma.

Lia Purpura currently resides in Baltimore, in the state of Maryland. Lia Purpura was born in 1964.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Essays > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > United States > General

Reviews - What do customers think about On Looking: Essays?

The ethics of looking  Apr 27, 2007
This is an important book. It presents looking as an ethical act in a world that is filled with cruelty as well as beauty. Without preaching, it speaks out against multiple forms of violence in our culture; the essay about the Maryland snipers is particularly searing at this moment when America refuses to reconsider its love affair with the gun despite events at VA Tech. And while it emphatically rejects sexism, it is complex in its analysis of the relations between men and women, willing to consider the possible pleasures of being an object of the "male gaze." Though it never moralizes, On Looking is a deeply moral book, and truly poetic. The going can be difficult, but struggling with its language rewards the reader. Every so often, a moment of preciosity intrudes, but on the whole, Purpura's touch is fine, and her vision is admirable.

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