Synopses & Reviews
Praise for Lia Purpura:
"Lia Purpura is fierce. She creates a kind of word origami, folding phonemes and inquiries into intricate paper delights. Then she holds a magnifying glass over them, focusing her rapturous attentions through the lens, until twists of smoke appear, and geometries of flame and sparks rain. If language is, as she suggests in one essay, 'a game we all [agree] to play,' then Purpura is at once a master of the game and a soulful, wild playmate."Leah Hager Cohen
"Purpura's sense of the intricate rhythms of language, her carefully constructed imagery, her leaps of association and symbols all recall the language of a poet. Her seductive, confessional voice, her need to be plain about her own experiences as a mother, a writer, and an observer of the world call to mind the works of the memoirist. And her finely tuned critical mind . . . suggest[s] the work of the critic and aesthetic philospher. . . . In these essays, Lia Purpura brings a nuanced, highly intelligent, critical eye to our most casual moments of perception."Kevin Prufer, Critical Mass
In Rough Likeness, the follow-up to the National Book Critics Circle finalist On Looking, Lia Purpura's essays take a conversational turn to examine the smallest things imaginablebeach glass, the color "gunmetal," a mushroomas well as states of being. Czeslaw Milosz said, "nothing but gifts on this poor, poor earth," and Purpura, in her excursions, finds worlds in the minute, crafting monuments to sentience.
Lyric essays that examine the smallest things imaginable--beach glass, the color "gunmetal," a mushroom--as well as states of being.
Lia Purpuras essays are full of joy in the act of intense observation; theyre also deliciously subversive and alert to the ways language gets locked and loaded by culture. These elegant, conversational excursions refuse to let a reader slide over anything, from the tiniest shards of beach glass to barren big-box wastelands. They detonate distractedness, superficiality, artificiality. In the process, Purpura inhabits many stances: metaphysician and biologist, sensualist and witnessall in service of illuminating that which Virginia Woolf called moments of being”previously unworded but palpably felt states of existence and knowing. Rough Likeness
finds worlds in the minute, and crafts monuments to beauty and strangeness.
About the Author
Lia Purpura is the author of seven collections of poetry, essays, and translations. Her book of essays, On Looking
(Sarabande Books), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition, she has earned fellowships and prizes from Pushcart Press, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Program, the Maryland State Arts Council, Loyola University, the MacDowell Colony, the Associated Writing Program (in nonfiction), and Alice James Press (the Beatrice Hawley Award). Her essays and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Orion, AGNI
, and The Georgia Review
, among others, and were cited five times in Best American Essays
. Lia Purpura is on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop and is Writer-in-Residence at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, conductor Jed Gaylin, and their son.