Blueberries is Readings’ Book of the Month for March, 2020, and Elle Australia’s Book of the Month.
Praise for Blueberries:
‘To encounter Ellena Savage’s voice for the first time is to be unmade, to have one’s rusted-on assumptions ground back to metal base. … 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.’
—Geordie Williamson, The Australian
‘Defying categorisation, Blueberries is unlike much else in Australian writing at the moment, and heralds Savage as a major new voice in experimental nonfiction.’
—Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, The Saturday Paper
‘Blueberries is… a formidable examination of memory, [which] asks what kind of being makes a memoir and how the body shapes what the mind remembers.’
—Catie McLeod, The Age
‘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.’
—Jo Case, InDaily
‘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.’
—Chloë Cooper, Kill Your Darlings
‘The darkness is shot through with a good deal of droll humour and some quite remarkable writing…You really get a feeling of an intellect that’s a combination of a searchlight and a machine gun.’
—David Hill, Radio New Zealand
‘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.’
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.
‘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