All the Fierce Tethers

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UPC: 9781946448309
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Author: Lia Purpura
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  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books (April 9, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1946448303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1946448309
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches

Readers familiar with Lia Purpura's highly praised essay collections―Increase, On Looking, and Rough Likeness―will know she's a master of observation, a writer obsessed with the interplay between humans and the things they see. The subject matter of All the Fierce Tethers is wonderfully varied, both low (muskrats, slugs, a stained quilt in a motel room) and lofty (shadows, prayer, the idea of beauty). In "Treatise Against Irony," she counters this all-too modern affliction with ferocious optimism and intelligence: "The opposite of irony is nakedness." In "My Eagles," our nation's symbol is viewed from all angles―nesting, flying, politicized, preserved. The essay in itself could be a small anthology. And, in a fresh move, Purpura turns to her own, racially divided Baltimore neighborhood, where a blood stain appears on a street separating East (with its Value Village) and West (with its community garden). Finalist for the National Book Critics Award, winner of a Guggenheim, NEA and four Pushcart Prizes, Lia Purpura returns with a collection both sustaining and challenging.


“Purpura puts readers into a state of aesthetic arrest, as well as surprise, discomfort, and, meditative pleasure.” ―Donna Seaman, Booklist; “Purpura [challenges] readers to examine our own myopic ways of being; all that we constantly overlook in order to move through our days and feel okay with ourselves. She uses the metaphor of a tidal wave to illustrate this tension between acquiescence and resistance: “…think of riding a tide: a force absorbs you, purpose transports, and a shared mind washes over. At the, edge though―near jetties and inlets, in dips and depressions – little tide pools settle and still, and that’s where the interesting stuff lies.”―Sarah Sheshire, Brevity


Lia Purpura is the author of eight collections of essays, poems, and translations, most recently a collection of poems, It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful (Penguin). On Looking (essays, Sarabande Books) was finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her awards include Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright Fellowships, as well as four Pushcart Prizes, the Associated Writing Programs Award in Nonfiction, and others.  Her work appears in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Orion, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, Agni, and elsewhere. She is Writer in Residence at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and teaches in The Rainier Writing Workshop’s MFA program. She lives in Baltimore, MD.