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Sometimes I think it’s possible to live with anything. That we’re wired to survive-survive-survive, to grip onto the gnarliest thread until life is pried from our bones. Other times I think, it’s not possible to live at all. Not at all.
Blueberries could be described as a collection of essays, the closest term available for a book that resists classification; a blend of personal essay, polemic, prose poetry, true-crime journalism and confession that considers a fragmented life, reflecting on what it means to be a woman, a body, an artist. It is both a memoir and an interrogation of memoir. It is a new horizon in storytelling.In crystalline prose, Savage explores the essential questions of the examined life: what is it to desire? What is it to accommodate oneself to the world? And at what cost?
‘Her voice [is] reassuringly droll, critical and warmly intimate…[Savage] has a poetic way of reminding us that crucial learning comes only with age—that time is finite.’
‘Delving into troubling territory, Savage brings a fierce intellect, sharp wit and a handful of uncomfortable truths. To read her is to be simultaneously thrilled and uneasy.’
‘Savage navigates delicate and difficult terrain with wit, ruthless scrutiny and painfully sharp analysis…If Yellow City is any indication, Blueberries will be one of the most exciting debuts of the new year.’
‘Once I started reading Blueberries, I found it almost impossible to put down. It’s fascinating to watch Ellena Savage’s mind at work in this book—her essays unfurl, expand, and dance in unexpected and satisfying ways. This is a masterful, fearless book in which strength and vulnerability collide.’
‘A breathtaking interrogation of the self in the world; the self within structures of power and oppression…Blueberries is exciting and distinctive.’
‘Ellena Savage is a rare kind of true intellectual, a voice that rises above the cacophony with remarkable insight. In Blueberries, she cuts fearless swathes through the ways that we write and think and live now and leaves us far better for it: the book is unsettling, life-affirming and essential.’
‘[Savage is] either a genius, or a witch, or my dream coupling of the two.’
‘Blueberries feels like laying down on the train tracks and looking up at the sky—a reverie, shot through by a feeling of acceleration, of something vast coming at you. Ellena Savage’s essays are heartstopping epics of self-inquiry and world-inquiry.’
‘Ellena Savage, in Blueberries, confronts the past convulsively, compulsively. In dialogic language and form, the author, facing memory’s traumas and perplexities, and also its delights, is constantly aware that it’s all about the translation of experience from the private to the public realm. In extremis, which is where Savage shines especially, it’s as if she saying to the “repressed”: go ahead and return; make my day.‘
‘Reading Ellena Savage’s Blueberries engaged me completely. Savage’s sparkling writing is bold, witty, insightful, fearless and funny. It emerges from an astute mind at odds with itself, with culture and society. Savage wrestles and plays with received ideas of all kinds, and with what has and hasn’t shaped her. Savage’s fierce essays and stories are true to a lived life, and fascinating and irresistible.’
‘Ellena Savage is savagely smart and talented.’
‘Wrestling with the intricacies of memory, identity, class and trauma, [Blueberries] sees Savage contemplate her past with unflinching clarity…Take it to your next book club.‘
‘Ellena Savage has produced a collection that defies categorisation but is fervently experiential, candid and original.‘
‘For fans of Maria Tumarkin, Kathy Acker and Maggie Nelson, Blueberries marks Savage as an experimental writer and essayist to watch.‘
‘Savage’s idealism and eloquence are a much-needed counterbalance to our by-now-threadbare belief that all the hard questions of how to order our world have been answered, that everything unsettling such certainty is a glitch, to be soldered onto the technocratic motherboard and run through the circuits of the polity. Blueberries is an adamant and unruly book. It is also the most exciting work of creative non-fiction to be published in this country since Maria Tumarkin took up the pen.’
‘A masterclass in experimental non-fiction…Savage is fiercely intelligent and manages to inject dry humour into even the most serious topics, creating a delicate balance between dire existentialism and life-affirming joy. By questioning the very nature of memoir itself, Savage breathes new life into the non-fiction form and considers what it means to be alive in today’s uncertain world.’
‘Savage plays with form like a poet, and excavates the roots of her experience with an impressive generosity and fierce intelligence that mirror her mentor, Maria Tumarkin…Fans of Tumarkin and Jia Tolentino should hunt this down… and luxuriate in a recent past where whiplash-inducing international travel was an option.’