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Night Rooms

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Author: Gina Nutt

Night Rooms by Gina Nutt

* 2021 Foreword INDIES, Finalist
* 2022 IPPY MEDALISTS for Essay, bronze

"A Best Book of 2021" —NPR
“A Most Anticipated Book of 2021” —Refinery29, Thrillist, Book Riot, Lit Hub

In a horror movie, an infected character may hide a bite or rash, an urge, an unwellness. She might withdraw or act out, or behave as if nothing is the matter, nothing has happened. Any course of action opposite saying how she feels suggests suffering privately is preferable to the anticipated betrayal of being cast out.

Night Rooms is a poetic, intimate collection of personal essays that weaves together fragmented images from horror films and cultural tropes to meditate on anxiety and depression, suicide, body image, identity, grief, and survival.

Whether competing in shopping mall beauty pageants, reflecting on childhood monsters and ballet lessons, or recounting dark cultural ephemera while facing grief and authenticity in the digital age, Gina Nutt’s shifting style echoes the sub-genres that Night Rooms highlights—spirit-haunted slow burns, possession tales, slashers, and revenge films with a feminist bent.

Refracting life through the lens of horror films, Night Rooms masterfully leaps between reality and movies, past and present—because the “final girl’s” story is ultimately a survival story told another way.

Watch author Gina Nutt read an excerpt from Night Rooms for The Miss Manhattan Non-Fiction Reading Series, April 2021 edition (essay 6)

An excerpt from Night Rooms by Gina Nutt on Lit Hub (essay 1)

Read (or listen to!) an excerpt from Night Rooms by Gina Nutt on The Adroit Journal, Issue Thirty-Seven (essay 10)

Poets & Writers, Ten Questions for Gina Nutt, author of Night Rooms, 3/23/2021


Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.

Night Rooms by Gina Nutt is named a 2021 Foreword INDIES Finalist for Essays. Read the announcement on the Foreword website.

Night Rooms by Gina Nutt is named a 2022 IPPY Medalist for Essay (bronze). Read the announcement on the The Independent Publisher Book Awards website.

“In her trenchant essay collection Night Rooms, Gina Nutt blends images from horror films with personal experience, revealing how horror tropes both echo and affect real life... Reading Night Rooms feels like wandering the rooms of a haunted house as a final girl, trapped and forever reckoning with her survival.
—Kristen Martin, NPR
NPR's Best Books of 2021

"After reaching the last page of Gina Nutt’s debut essay collection, Night Rooms, I immediately returned to the first. This time I studied the ways that each essay coheres around fragments to create a hallucinatory experience that doesn’t obscure but instead deepens the subjects that Nutt explores."
—Jeannie Vanasco in The Believer (Read the full interview with author Gina Nutt of Night Rooms on The Believer)

"Jumping between past and present with ease, Nutt slashes to the center of issues like motherhood and depression and ultimately emerges as the quintessential final girl of her own film... Nutt has a knack for short, sharp lines that skip the brain and go straight to the heart."
—Gabino Iglesias, NPR (Read the full review of Night Rooms on NPR)

"Featuring eighteen essays that braid together memoir and criticism, Gina Nutt’s debut collection Night Rooms is a supernatural force—a sharply felt, deeply instinctual investigation of horror cinema and the quiet terrors that follow us beyond each viewing."
—Gauraa Shekhar, Maudlin House (Read the full interview with author Gina Nutt on Maudlin House)

"Gina Nutt is a remarkably sharp, creative mind... Night Rooms blurs scenes from Nutt’s own life with those from horror movies in a way that forces the reader to consider their own self and trajectory, and it has changed the way I consider the essay form. It was enchanting to talk with such a strong woman and hear about the way she approaches the craft of story, the genre of horror, and the essay form in fresh and inventive ways.
—Katya Buresh, The Rumpus interview with Gina Nutt, 5/13/2021

"An exquisite collection of linked essays that centers the idea of escape as a presiding principle, not just in form—as these essays break from conventional expectations in provocative ways—but also in content... In Night Rooms, the ideas orbit each other in ways that illuminate something altogether more meaningful and surprising at their core."
—Richard Scott Larson, Vol. 1 Brooklyn (Read the full review of Night Rooms on Vol. 1 Brooklyn)

"Haunting and beautiful... Night Rooms becomes the aforementioned container, constructed from artistic engagement with horror films and pop culture in which Nutt attempts to make sense of what’s around her. Sometimes we can’t look straight in the face of our reality. Instead, we need something to look through, something that refracts, gives us a new angle of vision that makes it just this side of bearable."
—Brock Kingsley, The Chicago Review of Books (Read the full review of Night Rooms on Chicago Review of Books)

"Each essay feels akin to a half-remembered dream, drifting with a seemingly effortless free association... The language is beautifully recursive, looping back to layer new thoughts onto earlier ideas and images, offering the reader a little spark of pleasure when an independent connection is made while reading—and not just within single pieces, but across different essays as well. The collection paints a cohesive portrait stroke by stroke, coalescing into a whole once you reach the final page. "
—Abigail Oswald, The Rupture (Read the full review of Night Rooms on The Rupture)

"[Night Rooms] is a collection told in fragments and juxtapositions wherein [Gina Nutt] darts like a minnow between examinations of beauty and horror movies, from final girls to being the final girl... There is so much possibility for grief in places of danger, and what Nutt writes seems to remind us that danger exists not only in horror movies, but in places of beauty, in places where we should feel safe. Violence can mix with pleasure, can confuse feelings of desire. How thin that gap can be."
—Amie Souza Reilly, Brevity (Read the full review of Night Rooms on Brevity)

"Gina Nutt’s debut collection of essays, Night Rooms, is a beautiful, experimental piece that takes the reader in and out of different rooms as we experience the author’s understanding of childhood, family, relationships, and friends. Blended together with an exploration of horror movies and pop culture, unpacking how these impact and influence us, this collection is both engaging and dreamy, powerful and bold."
—Kailey Brennan,
Write or Die Tribe interview with Gina Nutt, 5/10/2021

"Night Rooms is unlike anything I have ever read... I would have classified Night Rooms as a memoir in lyric or a combination treatise on grief and film. I have begged the people around me to read it, to engage with me, to talk about how to defy genre, break form, reimagine narrative. I want to use this text as a model for how to show love to a form and to the self."
—Sarah Elgatian, Little Village interview with Gina Nutt, 4/27/2021

"Gina Nutt’s Night Rooms is a book of passages. I mean this literally in its form, a collection of nonfiction narrative poems that construct the book, and also metaphorically as each paragraph moves us from one sensation to another, unlocking a series of memories and feelings. Covering Nutt’s childhood, early adolescence, and adulthood, the collection as a whole amplifies the interconnectedness of things: how the horror films we watched in our teens can be foundational for how we process the word, the pleasures, and frustrations associated with the mall’s offerings and potentials mimicking the storehouse of memories housed in our brains and bodies, and how we process traumas built upon the foundations of previous traumas."
—Melinda Lewis, The Smart Set interview with Gina Nutt, 4/8/2021

"Gina Nutt's magnificent essay collection Night Rooms is filled with views of life filtered through the lens of horror cinema. A moving and unforgettable book."
—David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy (Read the musical playlist that Gina Nutt created for her essay collection Night Rooms on Largehearted Boy)

"A revelation... Nutt lays out her images and ideas like tarot cards or dream memories for us to find our own answers and tell our own stories. Like the best horror tales, the essays leave us with lingering feelings of disquiet and foreboding."
—Rufus Hickok, Fangoria (Read the full review of Night Rooms on Fangoria)

Host Brad Listi and Gina Nutt, the author of Night Rooms: Essays, speak about such far ranging topics as why every author needs a mic, horror movies and getting older, being patient with the writing process, the details of how Night Rooms came to be written, experiencing the haunting loss of suicide, and so much more!
Otherppl with Brad Listi Podcast episode 705 with Gina Nutt | 5/5/2021

"In Night Rooms, Nutt weaves images from horror films and other media with her own personal memories. She writes about potent illusions—how difficult it is to enter the ocean without thinking of Jaws—and others that are more fragile: As a child beauty pageant contestant, she recalls chipping one of her gold trophies, revealing its brown plastic interior. Accumulating vignettes, she circles in on the most intimate and challenging subjects, reckoning with grief and survival."
Poets & Writers, from Ten Questions for Gina Nutt, Night Rooms, 3/23/2021

"Night Rooms is a remarkable example of how the essay form is being wielded in unexpected ways to take on the most important questions of human experience. In this case, Gina grapples with the nature of our relationship to death and loss, grief and recovery, using the most unlikely of cinematic sounding boards: the horror movie. In a style that is axiomatic and poetic with a driving narrative voice that would feel familiar in a contemporary novel, Gina tells the story of her own experience with the fear and fascination with death through the reliving of plot lines from seminal horror movies that have left their imprint on her."
—Christopher Holmes, Burned By Books Podcast, Episode 11: Gina Nutt, Called to the Void | 3/27/2021

"[Night Rooms] is a collection of biographical essays that are woven together into an atmospheric dreamscape of memories. Not only does Gina use horror movies as a way to tap into our collective consciousness but she also uses them as a way to frame memories about girlhood, identity, suicide, body image, and much more."
—Paul Kwiatkowski, Wake Island Podcast with Gina Nutt - Night Room‪s | 3/31/2021

"Pulling on a film’s thematic thread and tying it to a time, a place, or a feeling with ease... Captivating, vulnerable, and defiantly original, Night Rooms is a simply stunning collection. With a stream-of-consciousness style at its core, its a beautiful addition to the personal essay genre, and one that will reward even more with subsequent readings."
—Jodie Sloan, AU Review (Read the full review of Night Rooms on AU Review)

"With a stunningly original concept and precise execution, Gina Nutt’s debut essay collection Night Rooms is absolutely captivating... Nutt shies away from nothing in her writing, taking bold chances with both the structure and the way she lays herself bare to the reader... Inhale the essays one by one. Set it down and reflect back on your own lived experience."
—Beth Mowbray, The Nerd Daily (Read the full review of Night Rooms on The Nerd Daily)

"Gina Nutt's Night Rooms is a startling collection of 18 essays ruminating on life experiences, cultural tropes and horror films, examining questions of gender, fear and grief. Fragmented in form, but firmly interconnected, these essays refuse to look away. Nutt's prose is lyrical, provocative, intimate and intelligent... Together, these pieces form an experience that is sensory, intellectual and emotional, illuminating difficult and even uncomfortable truths."
—Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness (Read the full review of Night Rooms on Shelf Awareness here)

"In this viscerally provocative collection of essays, life isn't so different from a horror movie — just be glad you have Gina Nutt as the Final Girl guiding you through... In writing both revelatory and intimate, Nutt probes the most frightening aspects of life in such a way that she manages to shed light and offer understanding even about those things that lurk in the deepest and darkest of shadows."
—Kristin Iversen, Refinery29 (Read the full review of Night Rooms on Refinery29)

"In a book with a name close to Gina Nutt’s debut essay collection, Loren Eisley wrote, 'my thoughts are all of night.' It’s there that we are most comfortable with the dead reanimating. Often too the living, still lingering features of ourselves find ways to slouch through. This is the space Gina covers in Night Rooms."
—Sean Sam, LIGEIA Magazine (Read the full LIGEIA Magazine interview with author Gina Nutt)

"As Nutt dances between real and imagined horror, she questions herself at every turn, like the final girl choosing which door to enter, which way to safety... Where we cannot trust an unreliable narrator because they appear unaware of their biases, Nutt’s own admissions of uncertainty make her voice sing with vulnerability, a channel toward a deeper authority."
—Ben Lewellyn-Taylor, Heavy Feather Review (Read the full review of Night Rooms on Heavy Feather Review)

"Serpentine and stunning, Gina Nutt’s Night Rooms leads us on a tour of the empty backrooms of our own personal experiences—we weave through corridors of memory and stumble into the bloody maw of classic horror tropes. The prose reality hops, making subtle and brilliant associative links—the emptiness within the spaces rings out as loudly as the gnashing content of the words themselves. This work gives the feeling of floating aimlessly in a long-abandoned Victorian flooded with viscous liquid. A disquieting dream rendering the reader a heavy limbed ghost haunting the halls of their own past."
—Jack Hawthorn, The Raven Book Store (Lawrence, KS)

"One of my favorite reads of 2021 and perhaps the decade... The structure is poetic and ephemeral, similar in style to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, but inhabiting a voice entirely its own... Horror as a genre delights in transgressing boundaries, and Night Rooms as a text is acutely aware of that and mimics it to perfection."
—Raelyn Torngren, @reading.reverie on Instagram

"Horror movies and bodily autonomy collide in poet Gina Nutt's debut essay collection. More lyrical prose than straightforward analysis, Night Rooms dismantles horror tropes through personal discursions, culminating in what it means to be the 'final girl' of her family."
—Leanne Butkovic and Emma Stefansky, Thrillist, "Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021"

"This slow burn mosaic memoir brims with horror movie references seamlessly integrated into a meditation on life. Nutt shifts from reality to film and back again, contextualizing her struggle with grief and survival in a vulnerable and relatable way. A cinematic kaleidoscope of honesty and self-examination weave this collection into a spotlight shining into the dark corners of Nutt’s mind."
—Alexander Schneider, "The Art of the Hand-Sell
August 11, 2021 By Book MarksA Novel Idea, Philadelphia, PA

"Gina Nutt uses horror movie tropes to weave together fragmented essays on anxiety and grief, homebuying, and shark-infused family vacations"
—Eliza Smith, Lit Hub "Most Anticipated Books of 2021" 

"This collection has a medatative quality about it, each a slight hurt, as if pressing gently on a bruise... Nutt navigates metaphor like an expert butcher—cutting and curing words until we're left with something totally new, a different animal than the original thought. A wonderful gift for anyone who has experienced loss, or an assault, any sort of violation that has guided them into their own night room."
—Aimée Keeble, Main Street Books (NC), Highly Recommending

"Poet Nutt applies her sensibilities to these fragmented, haunting essays sharing her fear of and fascination with death. She intricately ties horror films and true crime to moments in her own life; house-buying tainted by fears of who possibly died there, scenes from Poltergeist and Beetlejuice; memories of childhood beauty pageants forever tied to JonBenét Ramsey; dreams stalked by Freddy Krueger. Lovers of experimental essays should definitely seek this out."
—Kathy Sexton, Booklist

"[Nutt] spins a striking tale of survival and loss in this haunting essay collection. Nutt uses familiar tropes from horror films as a window into her thinking... Lovers of the personal essay will be thrilled by this innovative collection."
—Publishers Weekly (Read the full book review of Night Rooms on Publishers Weekly)

"These essays are affecting, like lucid dreams."
Kirkus Reviews (Read the full book review of Night Rooms on Kirkus)

"Night Rooms is a sharp and emotional collection of essays about everything from death, depression, suicide, grief and ultimately survival... I applaud [Gina Nutt] for this vulnerable, beautiful, inventive collection that is unlike anything I've even left read before."
—Peyton Biggs, @bookinhand_ on Instagram

"Night Rooms reads like a tour de force, a stream of consciousness where Gina blends her own story into fragments of horror movies. And that, I believe, is the point: to show just how horrifying and unsettling life can be. Even normal, everyday life carriers a propensity toward fear—the very thing the horror genre hinges upon and which lovers of the genre seek out."
—Mandy Shunnarah, Off the Beaten Shelf (Read the Night Rooms review from Off the Beaten Shelf)

"I surrendered myself to Nutt's lovely, fragmented pieces, with such keen and precise prose, letting her show me the way though different themes of death, grief, anxiety, body image, suicide and more using horror films as a conduit."
—Kate Hill, @bookalong on Instagram

"Most-anticipated new books from the first half of 2021."
—Kim Ukura and Alice Burton, Book Riot, For Real Podcast, Episode 74

"An interesting, unique collection... a solid read for anyone who loves personal essays or horror."
—Lolly K Dandeneau, bookstalkerblog (Read the Night Rooms review on bookstalkerblog)

"In Night Rooms, Gina Nutt uses horror films to describe feelings and experiences that can't be expressed in words. As haunting as any good movie and as fragmented as any life, this innovative, intimate, deeply resonant book blurs together film scenes with Nutt's own vivid recollections, giving voice to all the near-universal but inexpressible horrors, large and small, of being a woman, being a survivor, being alive."
Amy Berkowitz, author of Tender Points

"Whether she’s uncovering connections between her homebuyer’s course and haunted house movies, her wedding anniversary and Victorian taxidermy tableaux, or her shopping mall’s glass elevator and destiny, Gina Nutt writes prose so astonishing I want to read it in an MRI machine just to confirm that every part of my brain indeed lit up. Night Rooms is a brilliant, beautiful, boundlessly inventive book."
Jeannie Vanasco, author of Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl

"Night Rooms is vulnerable, cinematic, and positively transcendent. Gina Nutt uses themes and details from horror films as a way into a meditation on the deaths she's experienced in her own life, acting as a kind of literary final girl, asking, what does it mean to survive? Nutt's exploration of this question is captivating to read, as her chainsaw-sharp sentences carve a path toward the truth. I love this book."
Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I'm Someone Else


Gina Nutt author of Night Rooms
Gina Nutt is the author of the poetry collection Wilderness Champion. She earned her MFA from Syracuse University. Her writing has appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue, Joyland, Ninth Letter, and other publications.

Visit the Gina Nutt author page here for more.

Reader Guide

Click here to view and/or download the Night Rooms reader guide as a PDF.

Book Club and Reader Guide: Questions and Topics for Discussion

Throughout the essays in Night Rooms, author Gina Nutt examines large, overwhelming ideas such as death, suicide, anxiety, and living with grief, by weaving them together with quotes and descriptions from popular films. What effect did this braiding have on you? Why do you think the author chose to write about these topics in this way?

Consider the title the author chose for these interconnected essays — Night Rooms. Where in the book do literal and figurative “rooms” come up? Why do you think this title was appropriate?

Concepts of light vs dark appear within the essays: what are some instances? Which do you think the author prefers, and why?

The author recounts movies watched as a child — Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, Fantasia — and as an adult. Why do you think films are so important to her? What are some examples? Do you have any films that have played an important role in your life, and how?

In what ways has suicide — close family members and a childhood acquaintance choosing to end their lives — impacted the author’s own life? If you have also been close to someone who took their own life, in what ways was your experience similar and different to the author’s?

How does water appear, evolve, and shift throughout the book? What do the watery motifs symbolize to you?

Were there any films, shows, poems, books that you took the time to watch or rewatch after reading Night Rooms? What were they? What made you feel inspired to seek them out? Did you have any new appreciations for any in particular that you didn’t have before?

What are some examples in the book that show the author is fearful of death? What are some examples showing the author being fascinated or drawn to things that are morbid? How do you think both of these can exist together? Do you think this dual curiosity is universal for humans?

How does the author’s idea of “the final girl” change throughout the book? What do you think of “the final girl” archetype?

There are several references to films that depict an internal battle with the self, rather than an external one with a monster, ghost, or villain: what are some examples of each kind of struggle? Why might this be important to the author?

Night Rooms is a book that lays bare extremely personal experiences and fears, some of which might also apply to you. With your reading group, take turns saying which elements resonated with you the most, and why.

There are scenes in Night Rooms when seemingly peaceful landscapes or moments become overwhelmingly possible of danger. Talk about these occurrences in the collection. If there were other people present with the author in the examples, such as her husband, what did you think of the comparison of their reactions? Have you ever experienced intense anxiety? Have you gone through any shared experiences where a friend or family member did? Did reading Night Rooms give you any new insights or thoughts on feelings of anxiety?

A frequent theme in Night Rooms is how much grief is acceptable to express publicly, outwardly when working through the aftermath of a traumatic event. What do you think of the author’s worry that “despair is contagious and if I’m not careful I’ll infect everyone around me,” and the idea that, as shown frequently in horror films, “suffering privately is preferable to the anticipated betrayal of being cast out”? Have you ever felt this way, and when?

The book ends with a memory of the author as a child in awe of a beautiful and fascinating but tremendously violent and scary storm. How is this ending fitting for the book? What does it encapsulate? Reread the opening paragraphs: what do they have in common as bookends for this collection?

What is your sense of a personal canon? What movies, stories, books, poems, art, TV shows, ads, or images would you add to yours?

Sneak Peek

Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from Night Rooms!
View Night Rooms sneak peek on Issuu.com

Night Rooms by Gina Nutt sneak peek



FORMAT: Paperback
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PAGES: 178
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387004
DIGITAL ISBN: 9781953387011
RELEASE DATE: 3/23/2021
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"

Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).

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