Arrangement of Skin
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An Arrangement of Skin

Essays 

List Price: $25.00

March 21, 2017 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 224 Pages  | ISBN 9781619028470

"Journey has the poet’s eye for detail and knack for taut sentences, strong verbs, and arresting images...this is a fine volume and well worth reading." —Publishers Weekly

Anna Journey’s lyrical and layered arrangement of essays dazzles us with her reflections on our shifting selves—the many “skins” we inhabit in a life. An Arrangement of Skin is by turns beguiling, dark, carnal, and deeply personal. Journey revels in the flexibility and hy- bridity of the essay form, enriching her idiosyncratic anecdotes with literary and cultural meditations and electrifying the work with a poet’s keen ear and canny eye.

These essays swerve artfully among topics—a recollection of a personal rupture and ensuing call to a suicide hotline opens into a consideration of taxidermy and lyric time; a mother’s penchant for telling macabre stories at the dinner table connects to campfire songs and the cultural importance of American roots music; and a tattoo artist named after a pirate-themed rum reminds us how we inscribe our skins and spirits through the intimate gestures of ink. This is a first collection from an essayist of the highest order.

ANNA JOURNEY is the author of the poetry collections The Atheist Wore Goat Silk, Vulgar Remedies, and If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting, the latter of which was selected by Thomas Lux for the National Poetry Series. She’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, Yaddo, and elsewhere. She’s an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.

Praise

“Reading the essays in Anna Journey’s elegant, haunting new collection, An Arrangement of Skin, is like cracking open a closet door and peering in to see a tight and private collection of oddities, secrets, and skeletons . . . These are intimate, delicate essays about the many skins we inhabit, illuminating even in their darkness.” —The Boston Globe

“Zoos of antiquity, modern-day tattooed pirates, and ghost stories are all drawn together with Journey’s poetic talent… This is a retrospective that does not alienate with its personal tone. Rather, the reader is invited to reflect on a life’s many transitions and how they become part of the self.”  —Booklist, starred review

“With an air that’s equal parts Alfred Hitchcock and John Waters, poet Journey floats across the macabre, the literary, and the damaged…[She] has the poet’s eye for detail and knack for taut sentences, strong verbs, and arresting images…this is a fine volume and well worth reading.” —Publishers Weekly

“Glorious prose, beautiful images and metaphors composed by a fine poet.” —Kirkus

“While reading Anna Journey’s An Arrangement of Skin, I kept feeling as though I was riding on a boat, being toured through some beautiful places and some dark places, the person at the oars capable of pushing ahead all the while with grace, curiosity, and persistence.” —Maggie Nelson, author of Jane and The Red Parts

An Arrangement of Skin embodies what thrills me most in the essay form—an artist trying, over and over, to find the different paths into the subterranean realms of her subconscious. An early and unlikely image—taxidermy—contains the essence of the various tensions that connect these thoughts. For Journey, taxidermy ‘evokes that ineffable spark of life: call it a soul, a personality, a sentience’. An Arrangement of Skin is by turns transformative and vital, and with it Journey takes her place alongside Biss, Jamison, and D’Ambrosio.” – Nick Flynn, author Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

“‘Done with the compass, done with the chart!’ cried Emily Dickinson, tossing aside familiar ways of navigating the body’s wild seas. Anna Journey’s adventurous book traces what it is to be flesh in a surprising suite of essays that turns—like Ovid’s poems, or Plath’s—around images of dismemberment and metamorphosis. She might be our first Southern Gothic essayist, and she invigorates the form with both a poet’s lyricism and the distinctive signature of her character: a vulnerable heart wedded to an acute, comic, unsparing eye.” —Mark Doty, winner of the National Book Award
“Journey is a stunning writer . . . This brilliant collection shows us how the object, and the artistic interpretation laid across this object allows it, and the dangling strands of story and narrative that make it up, to stretch across time, generations, and family; to become something bigger—a single sliver of the greater public consciousness.” —The East Bay Review

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