Figure It Out

Figure It Out

“Toward what goal do I aspire, ever, but collision? Always accident, concussion, bodies butting together . . . By collision I also mean metaphor and metonymy: operations of slide and slip and transfuse.”

In his new nonfiction collection, poet, artist, critic, novelist, and performer Wayne Koestenbaum enacts twenty-six ecstatic collisions between his mind and the world. A subway passenger’s leather bracelet prompts musings on the German word for stranger; Montaigne leads to the memory of a fourth-grade friend’s stinky feet. Koestenbaum dreams about a hand job from John Ashbery, swims next to Nicole Kidman, reclaims Robert Rauschenberg’s squeegee, and apotheosizes Marguerite Duras as a destroyer of sentences. He directly proposes assignments to readers: “Buy a one-dollar cactus, and start anthropomorphizing it. Call it Sabrina.” “Describe an ungenerous or unkind act you have committed.” “Find in every orgasm an encyclopedic richness . . . Reimagine doing the laundry as having an orgasm, and reinterpret orgasm as not a tiny experience, temporally limited, occurring in a single human body, but as an experience that somehow touches on all of human history.” Figure It Out is both a guidebook for, and the embodiment of, the practices of pleasure, attentiveness, art, and play.

Title:Figure It Out
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781593765958
Format Type:

    Figure It Out Reviews

  • Tosh

    I love Wayne Koestenbaum's essays. It's an enjoyable experience to be in his brain. Also, a good book about writing. He has some excellent tips here as well. ...

  • Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. Thank you to Soft Skull Press and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book! It will be published May 5, 2020.I have somewhat ...

  • Chris Roberts

    Self-indulgence on a semi-epic scale,the ego is a nasty little cockroach.#poemChris Roberts, God Made Out in Electro-Lights...

  • Taylor Thomas

    Thank you to Soft Skull for the ARC!Koestenbaum's meandering writings are, as usual, highly affecting. From thoughtful to cringey (Koestenbaum's way of talking about the body and using bodily metaphor...

  • J.D. DeHart

    I was entertained, engaged, and mesmerized by Figure It Out. These essays are insightful and serve as a wonderful example of this form....

  • Kendra

    Any book by Koestenbaum is a dip into his kaleidoscopic mind, where we might encounter anything from musings on size queens to anecdotes about encounters on the subway to beards to art to music to cel...

  • Cori

    I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I requested a copy of this book. I like essays, and I was intrigued by the description. I still have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into and may ne...

  • Csimplot Simplot

    Excellent book!!!...

  • Glen Helfand

    I read a passage, a paragraph about beards, from this book to a friend who proclaimed, "He can write about anything!" And find something profound, titillating, and for me, inspiring. What stands out i...

  • Dave Madden

    Picture the brainy friend you like to accuse of overthinking things and to whom you often say, “That’s maybe a bit of a stretch” visiting you for the weekend, and it’s Sunday, their last day i...