My wonderful, and ever patient, Mum and I took a trip out to Oxford last weekend to attend out first Oxford Literary Festival. I bought us tickets to see crime writer Val McDermid and while we were there we obviously couldn’t help but browse the enormous Blackwell’s. bookshop I wandered up to the non-fiction section as I fancied picking up some essay collections and other non-ficiton I wasn’t disappointed with my finds. I wanted loads but came away with three, one of which was Bluets by Maggie Nelson. I knew I recognised Nelson’s name and I couldn’t quite place it until I looked inside the book and realised she is the writer of Argonauts, which I have heard lots of really great things about. Rather than buy Argonauts I bought Bluets, which I had heard nothing about and I was distracted by its striking cover and blue is my favourite colour. Yes. I absolutely judge books by their covers.
If you are looking for an essay collection, as I was, this is not that and it was not at all what I was
expecting. What I will say is that despite its brevity (a very slender 112 pages) this is not one to devour in one sitting. There is just so much to sit back and consider…and I mean a lot.
Her writing is simply stunning; so precise and meaningful. This is a collection of musings on the colour blue – what do we mean when we say we feel blue? How does the colour blue make us feel? Nelson’s writing plots her writing around the breakdown of a romantic relationship and the medical and physical challenges of her closest friend. These passages are so moving – particularly those that focus on her caring for her friend. I’m actually finding this book really difficult to write about. I know how I feel about it but I don’t know how to put this into words. It's an insight into melancholy, almost a celebration of it, but even that sounds trite.
Please read it. Linger over it. Take it slowly. Enjoy it.