American Romances : Essays
"Everything and nothing is sacred in Rebecca Brown's essays. Tongue, word, thought, and intellect all conspire in a free language love of living history, divination, sex, solitude and amusement. She is America's only real rock n' roll schoolteacher. Lessons layered with profundity and protracted parallels. Where old world religion, Gertrude Stein and Oreo cookies co-exist in an actual and mystic world of wonder." --Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth
"If Rebecca Brown's talent for prose were any tighter, it would be a lyric -- to a pop standard. An homage -- a menage -- to America, exposing what's laid bare in a comic tragic redux. I laughed till it hurt." --Van Dyke Parks, Composer/Arranger
"Anyone who can get from the Eucharist, to a Necco Wafer, to the goo beween the Oreo wafers, to the Inquisition, to the goo between the legs of excited young women is a distant sibling of mine. She can dash and she can drift and she is not much interested in the really bad parts that might qualify as confession. She likes the float of quotidian living and I like to read the words upon which she floats." -- Dave Hickey, author of Air Guitar
The impulse to tell our worst to a bunch of strangers has been fueling American self-hood for 300 years: there's a direct line from the Puritan confession narrative to today's lurid, inescapable exhibitionism. But whose stories are we telling?
This collection of mordant, poignant, and playful essays shows Rebecca Brown at the height of her imaginative and intuitive powers. A wry, incisive social and literary critique is couched in a gonzo mix of pop culture, autobiography, fiction, literary history, misremembered movie plots, and fantasy that plays with the notion of what it is to be “American.” Fantastical connections and unlikely meetings span the course of America’s cultural history in a manic remix, featuring appearances by Brian Wilson, Gertrude Stein, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Invisible Man, the Abligensian Crusade, John Wayne, Felix Mendelssohn, JFK, Shane, and God.
Rebecca Brown’s books include: The Gifts of the Body, The Last Time I Saw You, The Haunted House, Terrible Girls, and The End of Youth.