Writer: Maggie Nelson
Publishing House: Wave Books
Date of Publication: October 1st 2009
Rating: 5 stars
”If a colour could deliver hope, does it follow that it could also bring despair?”
Blue, blå, blauw, bleu, blau, κυανό, azzurro, azul, sinij, modra, blár….. a colour that carries powerful imagery, thoughts and memories…
Maggie Nelson is a writer I’ve always wanted to know more about and a beautiful review by my good friend Hannah convinced me that the time had finally come. It was a deeply poignant, haunting, almost transcendental reading experience.
In this book, we have the writer’s musings on the colour blue and its various aspects. It is interesting that our societies associate blue with masculinity, imposing it on the infants (even in our progressive era) and with life. The majority of the flags of our countries contain a shade of blue. It is everywhere, the sky, the sea…A significant percentage- myself included- considers blue eyes as being the most attractive. They can be mesmerizing but they can also appear cold, soulless, threatening. Baby blue and indigo blue are utter opposites. The more I come to think of it, the more I believe that no other colour has so many facades and identities. Here, Nelson associates blue with love, loss, suffering and despair.
”And what kind of madness is it anyway, to be in love with something constitutionally incapable of loving you back?”
These are heartfelt confessions on a deep, dark abyss of a love that has been betrayed, a hope that is lost. Blue accompanies loneliness and, at times, a feeling of surrendering fully to the pain that comes when you are unable to anything to prevent disaster. I admit that I was touched by the despair that permeated the short entries of this book and the deep sadness. It almost made me feel uncomfortable as if I were an unknown by-stander watching the moment of utter emotional collapse. However, don’t be discouraged. The writing is so rich and evocative. It is raw and powerful, giving voice to feelings that we have all experienced at least once in our lives. There is a distinctive aura of sensuality in the language and the theme of sexuality and its implications is central and communicated in a very realistic manner.
There are very interesting entries with true gems of information. To give you a tiny example, I was particularly fascinated by the habit of the bowerbird that clutters his domain with blue objects to attract the attention of the female. There are references to cultural icons from Thoreau, to Emerson, Goethe and Stein, to Leonard Cohen and Billie Holiday. There are parallels and narratives related to History, Mythology, stories of saints, sacred places and sinners…
This is a very special book, difficult to label. Is it a memoir? A re-imagined reality? A poetic confession? To me, it felt like poetry from a bleak place, heavy laden with the ache of an unfulfilled hope. I can’t see how can anyone read Bluets and not be haunted by it…And if you find yourselves fascinated with Blue and the mysteries it hides, it is only natural…
”I have been trying for some time to find dignity in my loneliness. I have been finding this hard to do.”