Emerson Whitney (Author)


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Named a best book by The AV Club, PAPER Magazine, LitHub, Ms. Magazine, Chicago Review of Books, Refinery29, the Observer, and the Seattle Times

Emerson Whitney writes, "Really, I can't explain myself without making a mess." What follows is that mess-electrifying, gorgeous, defiant.

At Heaven's center, Whitney seeks to understand their relationship to their mother and grandmother, those first windows into womanhood and all its consequences. Whitney retraces a roving youth in deeply observant, psychedelic prose-all the while folding in the work of thinkers like Judith Butler, Donna Haraway, and C. Riley Snorton-to engage transness and the breathing, morphing nature of selfhood.

An expansive examination of what makes us up, Heaven wonders what role our childhood plays in who we are. Can we escape the discussion of causality? Is the story of our body just ours? With extraordinary emotional force, Whitney sways between theory and memory in order to explore these brazen questions and write this unforgettable book.
"A forceful act of writing."
-Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls

"A poetic, candid, probing reckoning with childhood, the maternal, gender, and the possibilities of theory which will both speak to its time and outlast it."
-Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

"An incisive, nuanced inquiry into gender and body."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product Details

$24.00  $22.08
Publish Date
April 14, 2020
5.4 X 8.1 X 0.9 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Emerson Whitney is the author of the poetry title Ghost Box (Timeless Infinite Light, 2014). Emerson teaches in the BFA creative writing program at Goddard College and is the Dana and David Dornsife Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California.


"An incisive, nuanced inquiry into gender and body."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Melodic and engagingly written, Heaven will enrapture anyone who loves reading for beauty and intellectual challenge at once."
--Literary Hub

"Emerson Whitney's first prose book is a frank and absorbing examination of transness, brokenness, mothering, femininity, embodiment and truth."
--Ms. Magazine

One of the Observer's Best Books of Spring

"Heaven is an unflinching personal examination of family and identity, bearing witness to what it means to live life on one's own terms."
--Foreword Reviews

"A gripping memoir whose sentences are akin to a skipped heartbeat"
--PAPER, best books to buy in Quarantine

"(U)tterly hypnotic... a gorgeous book that feels like a painting"
--The Seattle Times, Women's History Month Reading List

"(W)hat Heaven does best is capture the disorienting pull of unsettling childhood memories--at once incomplete and terribly weighted."
--AV Club

"Provocative, emotional, infinitely faceted... a reminder that messiness is at the heart of all beautiful things"