Kate Zambreno

Kate Zambreno is the author of the novels Green Girl and O Fallen Angel as well as the nonfiction Heroines and Book of Mutter (both published by Semiotexte(e)).

  • Appendix Project

    Appendix Project

    Talks and Essays

    Kate Zambreno

    On the ongoing project of writing about grief; Zambreno's addendum to Book of Mutter.

    “I came up with the idea of writing these notes, or talks, out of a primary desire to not read from Book of Mutter, and instead to keep gesturing to its incompleteness and ongoingness, which connects, for me, to the fragmentary project of literature, and what I long for in writing."—from Appendix Project

    Inspired by the lectures of Roland Barthes, Anne Carson, and Jorge Luis Borges, Kate Zambreno's Appendix Project collects eleven talks and essays written in the course of the year following the publication of Book of Mutter, Zambreno's book on her mother that took her over a decade to write. These surprising and moving performances, underscored by the sleeplessness of the first year of her child's life, contain Zambreno's most original and dazzling thinking and writing to date. In Appendix Project Zambreno thinks through the work of On Kawara, Roland Barthes, W.G. Sebald, Bhanu Kapil, Walter Benjamin, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Marguerite Duras, Marlene Dumas, Louise Bourgeois, Doris Salcedo, Jenny Holzer, and more.

    • Paperback $15.95 £12.99
  • Book of Mutter

    Book of Mutter

    Kate Zambreno

    A fragmented, lyrical essay on memory, identity, mourning, and the mother.

    Writing is how I attempt to repair myself, stitching back former selves, sentences. When I am brave enough I am never brave enough I unravel the tapestry of my life, my childhood. from Book of Mutter

    Composed over thirteen years, Kate Zambreno's Book of Mutter is a tender and disquieting meditation on the ability of writing, photography, and memory to embrace shadows while in the throes—and dead calm—of grief. Book of Mutter is both primal and sculpted, shaped by the author's searching, indexical impulse to inventory family apocrypha in the wake of her mother's death. The text spirals out into a fractured anatomy of melancholy that includes critical reflections on the likes of Roland Barthes, Louise Bourgeois, Henry Darger, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Peter Handke, and others. Zambreno has modeled the book's formless form on Bourgeois's Cells sculptures—at once channeling the volatility of autobiography, pain, and childhood, yet hemmed by a solemn sense of entering ritualistic or sacred space.

    Neither memoir, essay, nor poetry, Book of Mutter is an uncategorizable text that draws upon a repertoire of genres to write into and against silence. It is a haunted text, an accumulative archive of myth and memory that seeks its own undoing, driven by crossed desires to resurrect and exorcise the past. Zambreno weaves a complex web of associations, relics, and references, elevating the prosaic scrapbook into a strange and intimate postmortem/postmodern theater.

    • Hardcover $17.95 £14.99
  • Heroines

    Heroines

    Kate Zambreno

    A manifesto for “toxic girls” that reclaims the wives and mistresses of modernism for literature and feminism.

    I am beginning to realize that taking the self out of our essays is a form of repression. Taking the self out feels like obeying a gag order—pretending an objectivity where there is nothing objective about the experience of confronting and engaging with and swooning over literature.”—from Heroines

    On the last day of December, 2009 Kate Zambreno began a blog called Frances Farmer Is My Sister, arising from her obsession with the female modernists and her recent transplantation to Akron, Ohio, where her husband held a university job. Widely reposted, Zambreno's blog became an outlet for her highly informed and passionate rants about the fates of the modernist “wives and mistresses.” In her blog entries, Zambreno reclaimed the traditionally pathologized biographies of Vivienne Eliot, Jane Bowles, Jean Rhys, and Zelda Fitzgerald: writers and artists themselves who served as male writers' muses only to end their lives silenced, erased, and institutionalized. Over the course of two years, Frances Farmer Is My Sister helped create a community where today's “toxic girls” could devise a new feminist discourse, writing in the margins and developing an alternative canon.

    In Heroines, Zambreno extends the polemic begun on her blog into a dazzling, original work of literary scholarship. Combing theories that have dictated what literature should be and who is allowed to write it—from T. S. Eliot's New Criticism to the writings of such mid-century intellectuals as Elizabeth Hardwick and Mary McCarthy to the occasional “girl-on-girl crime” of the Second Wave of feminism—she traces the genesis of a cultural template that consistently exiles female experience to the realm of the “minor,” and diagnoses women for transgressing social bounds. “ANXIETY: When she experiences it, it's pathological,” writes Zambreno. “When he does, it's existential.” By advancing the Girl-As-Philosopher, Zambreno reinvents feminism for her generation while providing a model for a newly subjectivized criticism.

    • Paperback $17.95 £14.99