Bluets by Maggie Nelson

It’s hard to pin down exactly what Bluets is: written in brief, numbered paragraphs, Nelson’s book reads almost like a collection of prose poems. It is autobiographical, confessional, emotionally immediate, and shocking, in parts. This slim volume is at once dense and sparse, and while it may be a quick read, you will find tinges of it seeping through you long after you put it down.

Written over three years, in the aftermath of a catastrophic break up and while caring for a close friend, who is quadriplegic, Nelson grapples with heartbreak, loss and grief. She describes the act of writing the book as “way of making my life feel ‘in progress’ rather than a sleeve of ash falling off a lit cigarette”.

Each little fragment is a meditation on art, love, loneliness and Nelson’s struggles with depression, and often her relationship with her therapist. The thread that weaves everything together is the colour blue and Nelson’s lifelong obsession with it.

Nelson talks about the blue objects, fragments and facts that she collects as a comfort that she can keep around her and help her work through the times that she has struggled, like a |Bowerbird furnishing her nest, and in a sense that is what this book is itself; a series of intimate moments that you can call on for wisdom, beauty and comfort.

Reviewer: Isobel, Mind Communications team

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