Synopses & Reviews
“A fresh, energetic voice with a brilliant mind to power it,” brings readers an endlessly inventive, intimate, and provocative memoir-in-essays that celebrates the strange and exquisite state of falling in love — whether with a painting or a person — and interweaves incisive commentary on modern life, feminism, art and sex with the author’s own experiences of obsession, heartbreak, and past trauma (Esmé Weijun Wang, New York Times bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias).
Like a song that feels written just for you, Larissa Pham’s debut work of nonfiction captures the imagination and refuses to let go.
Pop Song is a book about love and about falling in love — with a place, or a painting, or a person — and the joy and terror inherent in the experience of that love. Plumbing the well of culture for clues and patterns about love and loss — from Agnes Martin’s abstract paintings to James Turrell’s transcendent light works, and Anne Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet to Frank Ocean’s Blonde — Pham writes of her youthful attempts to find meaning in travel, sex, drugs, and art, before sensing that she might need to turn her gaze upon herself.
Pop Song is also a book about distances, near and far. As she travels from Taos, New Mexico, to Shanghai, China and beyond, Pham meditates on the miles we are willing to cover to get away from ourselves, or those who hurt us, and the impossible gaps that can exist between two people sharing a bed.
Pop Song is a book about all the routes by which we might escape our own needs before finally finding a way home. There is heartache in these pages, but Pham’s electric ways of seeing create a perfectly fractured portrait of modern intimacy that is triumphant in both its vulnerability and restlessness.
“Larissa Pham combines the thrilling and agonized travails of her young narrator with the lucid and steady eye of a born critic. The combination is a compelling portrait of one artist’s development through the mirrors of her (and many of my) favorite artists. Pop Song is a bold and promising debut.” Melissa Febos
“Artist and lit world phenom Larissa Pham’s debut essay collection is like a literary mixtape, which makes its title all the more apt. In her pieces about travel, sex, loss, and inner work, Pham builds a magpie-like nest out of cultural references... a volume that feels comfortingly worn-in and relatably restless.” Keely Weiss, Harper’s Bazaar
“A stunning, vulnerable memoir-in-essays... a nuanced story about the nonlinear process of overcoming heartbreak and letting go.” Lydia Wang, BUST
“Generous, insightful, and piercingly honest, Larissa Pham’s writing evokes a luminous and intricate closeness, the intimacy of an old friend or a new lover. Pop Song brings new light to the hidden contours of the heart, revealing new mystery and complexity right beneath life’s glossy surface.” Alexandra Kleeman
“I would follow Larissa Pham’s mind anywhere, and Pop Song takes me everywhere I didn’t realize I was longing to go: inside an aching exploration of the intangibility of the sky, to the suffocating boundaries of a crush that is violent in its capture, to art criticism from which a blazing self-portrait emerges. I am absolutely in love. You will be, too.” Kristen Radtke
Watch the Powell’s virtual event with Larissa Pham and Mary H.K. Choi!
About the Author
Larissa Pham is an artist and writer in Brooklyn. Born in Portland, Oregon, she studied painting and art history at Yale University. She has written essays and criticism for the Paris Review Daily, The Nation, Art in America, Guernica, and elsewhere. She was an inaugural Yi Dae Up fellowship recipient from the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She is also the author of Fantasian, a novella.