“Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.”Maggie Nelson
I don’t think so many friends have recommended me the same book which such vehemence in any other occasion. Before reading Bluets I was already hyped and I had never read anything by Maggie Nelson and I thought the book was, for that is what friends had told me, a poetry collection… I was surprised to find it isn’t.
The first thing I liked about this book was its format, because I was not expecting a book that resists being labelled one genre or another. The book is almost like a list and its items, which Nelson called “propositions” are numbered, there are 240 of them. I love the fact that it is a non-classifiable book: is it poetry? yes, but it’s also prose, and it’s a list and kind of a draft and a diary and a collection of mini essays.
These propositions reflect on various things: love and loss, heartbreak and grief, sex, desire and pleasure. Also, there are personal references to Maggie Nelson’s academic life, friendships, relationships and past. There is not a chronologic or thematic order but everything revolves around the colour blue. The book is a love-letter to the colour blue, a homage to her obsession with it. In that way it is also a reflection on colour-perception and I also loved the inquisitive nature of Nelson’s propositions (it’s the academic in her) because she quotes Wittgenstein and Goethe in various parts.
Bluets reminded me a lot of Rebecca Solnit’s style and themes in A Field Guide to Getting Lost, because the bridge between the particular and the general, the objective and the abstract is the personal experience. I felt this book a lot and I just love how Maggie Nelson really let herself go and put feelings into the page without wanting to intellectualise them so much, especially when describing heartbreak and grief. I loved the essay-ish style fo the book as well because the includes quotes by many other authors and discusses them, not in a “let me explain” kind of way but in a “I am trying to make sense of all of this” way.