Review: Nelson’s Shiner


Maggie Nelson

This year, I finally came to grips with something pretty fundamental about my reading interests – I don’t really care about prose. I care about ideas, and characters, and plots. I care about history, personal development, and inspiration. But I do not care about a formal experimentation. I don’t care about clever re-workings of language. I don’t, really, care about style.

This is, I think, is why, though I absolutely loved the Argonauts, Shiner, Maggie Nelson’s first book of poetry left me cold.

Poetry is often about formal experimentation, careful parsing of language, tone and meter. These things don’t really interest me. Sure I like a well turned phrase, but I don’t find them necessary to my enjoyment. Got a self-published memoir on a running cult? Full of typos and run-on sentences. I’m down. Got a carefully crafted book of poetry writing by an incredibly talented writer? I’ll pass.

This isn’t to say that I don’t care about good writing, I do. But if all something is is well written, I’ll probably get bored. This is who I am, and this is what I like, but you mileage may vary. If words, for their own sake, is you jam, this might go over much better than it did with me.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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  1. The Grand World of Books

    I’m sorry to hear that you did not like it. 😦 I just added this to my TBR, though, to try out for this year, because I have a poetry slot on my bingo challenge, and I’m looking for books of poetry to fill it with, and this looks interesting. Thank you for the honest review!!

    1. seanv2

      Don’t let me turn you off! Nelson is a very talented writer and I’ve liked much of her prose work. The poetry just is t my thing.

      1. The Grand World of Books

        Oh, no worries 🙂 I’m actually really excited to get ahold of this book, so you haven’t turned me off to it at all. Poetry is not always for everyone, and I think maybe not even every poet resonates with everyone. You wrote a wonderful review, though!

      2. seanv2

        Thanks I’m curious to hear what you think of it!

      3. The Grand World of Books

        I’ll be sure to post up a review. It is actually on its way to me, so hopefully I’ll get to it this month. I’m pretty excited!

  2. Review: Nelson’s Bluets | Milo and the Calf

    […] As I’ve written elsewhere, I’m much more drawn to Nelson’s prose than her poetry. This one sits somewhere in the middle – written in prose, but with the kind of hyper careful word choice and syntax that we see in her poetry. An interesting book, clearly an experiment of sorts, which lead to much stronger work later on. […]

  3. 2016: My Year In Books | Milo and the Calf

    […] Shiner, Maggie Nelson – Recommended for the Enthusiast  […]

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