Out in ANZ with Text Publishing, March 03, and with Scribe in the UK, April 09, 2020.
About the Book:
‘I mean who cares about opinions, gossip, whatever, when bodies are so vulnerable, in search only of love and breath.’
The body frequently escapes her, but is always very much present in these compellingly vivid, clear-eyed essays on an embodied self in flight through the world, from the brilliant young writer Ellena Savage.
In Portuguese police stations and Portland college campuses, in suburban Melbourne libraries and wintry Berlin apartments, Savage shows bodies in pain and in love, bodies at work and at rest.
She circles back to scenes of crimes or near-crimes, to lovers or near- lovers, to turn over the stones, re-read the paperwork, check the deeds, approach from another angle altogether. These essays traverse cities and spaces, bodies and histories, moving through forms and modes to find a closer kind of truth. Blueberries is ripe with acid, promise, and sweetness.
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?
‘Ellena Savage is savagely smart and talented.’–Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room
‘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.’—Lynne Tillman, author of American Genius, a Comedy
‘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’s essays are heartstopping epics of self-inquiry and world-inquiry.’—Maria Tumarkin, author of Axiomatic
‘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.’—Jean Edelstein, author of This Really Isn’t About You
‘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.’—Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I’m Someone Else
‘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.’—David Lazar, editor of Hotel Amerika and Truth in Nonfiction, author of Occasional Desire, The Body of Brooklyn, and I’ll be Your Mirror
‘Ellena Savage’s debut collection of essays, Blueberries, is a breathtaking interrogation of the self in the world; the self within structures of power and oppression … Savage is not afraid to turn her critical eye inwards; to make and unmake herself in the process of writing. Innovative and playful with form, the essays are united by the author’s voices. Many voices that originate in Savage (the teenager, the twenty-something, thirty-something woman) make themselves heard on the page. Blueberries is polyphonic.—Charlotte Guest, Books + Publishing