Who wouldn't love a guided tour of the Avant-garde Postmodern art movement, lead unflinchingly by Maggie Nelson? Not her usual autobiographical matter, she points her writing at a broader scope of the art world's use of brutality, real or simulated. If you're an art nerd with a leaning towards the weird and uncomfortable, she presents you with a very deep well of it, while providing thoughtful context so you don't drown randomly.
Picked by Emily in Fort Greene
Writing in the tradition of Susan Sontag and Elaine Scarry, Maggie Nelson has emerged as one of our foremost cultural critics with this landmark work about representations of cruelty and violence in art. From Sylvia Plath's poetry to Francis Bacon's paintings, from the Saw franchise to Yoko Ono's performance art, Nelson's nuanced exploration across the artistic landscape ultimately offers a model of how one might balance strong ethical convictions with an equally strong appreciation for work that tests the limits of taste, taboo, and permissibility.