- Series: Semiotext(e) / Active Agents
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Semiotext(e); Semiotext edition (June 5, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1584350660
- ISBN-13: 978-1584350668
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art (Semiotext(e) / Active Agents) Semiotext Edition
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Eloquent, touching, and often hilarious essays on art, poetry, politics, and 'Eileen' -- a comic character who deserves to be as well known as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.(Terry Castle Bookforum)
The Importance of Being Iceland brings Myles full circle: She is able to portray evolving LGBT culture and her place in it, while simultaneously enabling the larger world to view us with humor, irony and admiration.(Rachel Pepper Curve Magazine)
Myles is a brilliant stylist; she writes in a way that we wish we could talk. Which is why it's so exciting to finally have a great big slab of essays, to observe her language when she's not constrained by the rules of poetry or fiction. We get to hear what she says when she's being herself.(Paul Constant The Stranger)
Myles's unique writings on art and culture manage to stay right on target while simultaneously misbehaving.(Alan Gilbert The Village Voice)
There's a perfect analogy for the experience of reading Eileen Myles's new book of essays, The Importance of Being Iceland: it's like being at a large and lively dinner party with several of your favorite friends. The food is good, the room is comfortable, and the conversation is witty, feisty, perceptive, even tender. There are moments of digression, moments when the conversation becomes a little choppy, and there's also the fact that all of your dinner companions are variants of Eileen Myles. The overall effect of this book is to leave the reader with a full belly and a refreshed sensibility.(Elizabeth Robinson Rain Taxi Review of Books)
These writings confidently wander and always cohere, held together not just by the author's singular intelligence but by her ability to exude personality on the page.(Michael Miller TimeOut New York)
About the Author
Eileen Myles, named by BUST magazine "the rock star of modern poetry," is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, including Chelsea Girls, Cool for You, Sorry, Tree, and Not Me (Semiotext(e), 1991), and is the coeditor of The New Fuck You (Semiotext(e), 1995). Myles was head of the writing program at University of California, San Diego, from 2002 to 2007, and she has written extensively on art and writing and the cultural scene. Most recently, she received a fellowship from the Andy Warhol/Creative Capital Foundation.
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Top Customer Reviews
Initially more than a little unsure about what to expect out of the book, I was immediately taken by Myles’ punchy writing, laced with beautifully written insights about the world around her, around us. Her style lends itself, at many moments, to a stream-of-consciousness, conversational feel. One strong example of this is one page 137, at the end of “The Sonnets”, where Myles writes, “Ouch, who wrote that?!” Because of this, I felt a closer connection to her writing that only furthered my interest in the book.
One of my favorite pieces in the book is titled “Sarah’s Smoke” (page 88). In this poem, Myles explores femininity and feminism, being alive and living, and the process of creating art. When she writes about the transition of Sarah’s work from angry and black to a white “[f]emale silence,” I found not only the imagery of this statement to be piercing, but also the meaning itself of such a transition was very poignant to me. It was interesting to imagine a world where we change from all color to absence of color, from screaming to whispering, but still have a profound impact all the same. This piece also talked about a period in Sarah’s life where she was nothing and then how she made a transition into something, as if she was butterfly sexually emerging from the chrysalis, with black wings and angry eyes. Her (lack of) smoke and her period of nothingness made me feel as though her living was dependent on her change. Though she was alive before, her lack of anger, of passion, of vice, led her to be less of a person. Is that what personhood is constituted by, Eileen?
Beyond her skillful commentary on artists and writers throughout the book, Eileen Myles also skillfully comments on what it means to be a woman in the modern world. On page 44, she makes a statement about men compared to women, writing, “I think a man is safe … in the world and a woman never is.” The place of a woman in the world has historically been below that of men, but Eileen uses her writings to explore times when this balance was righted, even tipped in favor of women. At times, Myles also explore the idea of a masculine power being held captive inside women, as on page 63 when describing the art work of Nicole Eisenman. This same power, that, on page 107 Susanna Coffey says women “…have earned...”, finds itself a place in Myles’ own musings and makes them all the more powerful.