Losing Music


Product Details

$26.00  $24.18
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.6 X 1.2 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

John Cotter is the author of Losing Music. He has contributed essays, theater pieces, and fiction to New England Review, Raritan, Georgia Review, Guernica, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, Joyland, Commonweal, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.


Praise for Losing Music"In this bracing memoir, essayist Cotter recounts his experience with an incurable inner ear disorder....The result is a poignant reflection on disability."--Publishers Weekly
"Devastating and beautiful. Losing Music is pieced together in a particularly uncanny way, like scraps of conversation that gradually coalesce into an immensely powerful and meaningful whole."--Sam Sacks, editor, Wall Street Journal
"Losing Music is a stunning, expansively beautiful book. Not just because of John Cotter's precise and vivid language on a sentence level, but also because of how it moves so tenderly through the vanishing of sound, and not just sound, but songs--points of connection that can be taken for granted. And even beyond this reality, Losing Music is not solely a sad book. It is also a book of comforts, of joys, of closeness. I am thankful for all of its movements."--Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America"John Cotter brings sound to the page as something tactile: abrasive, elusive, fluid, textured, a current between body and mind. He fashions language into a velvety pocket in a harsh world. Losing Music is a phenomenal book about what it's like to be sick and suffering, and in it, I recognize not only the isolating nature of illness, but also a powerful intimacy with one's own changing self."--Elissa Washuta, author of White Magic"I'm not sure what I'd do if my body became a seemingly unsolvable mystery, and I can't know how I'd handle the fear, frustration, and despair, but I doubt I'd have either the fortitude or the imagination to do what John Cotter has achieved in this book. Losing Music is a remarkable memoir: unsettling, insightful, and gorgeously written. I'll be pressing this book into many people's hands."--Maggie Smith, author of Goldenrod"I think the hardest thing for a personal writer to do is think well and feel well at the same time. John Cotter's writing is bursting with as much intellect as heart. It's as clear-eyed and incisive as it is moving. It's what nonfiction should be."--Lucas Mann, author of Captive Audience and Lord Fear"Losing Music is a fascinating, heartbreaking, deeply personal story from one of the most talented essayists around. It's a book about art and illness, the betrayals of the body, and what is kept and what is lost as time goes by."--Justin Taylor, author of Flights and Riding with the Ghost"Losing Music is a vertiginous journey of loss and discovery triggered by the onset of an unpredictable and mysterious disability. With poetic energy, John Cotter describes the roaring and swirling particulars of Ménière's disease, while he grapples with universal questions of meaning and suffering. The memoir effortlessly blends personal stories with delightful deep dives into sound dynamics, inner-ear anatomy, and eighteenth-century author Jonathan Swift, who becomes a much needed friend--'articulate, accessible, free with his time, ' and, I might add, darkly funny, dramatic, and brilliant, not unlike Cotter himself."--M. Leona Godin, author of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness
"Heart-wrenching . . . When the mysterious symptoms that turn out to be Meniere's disease encroach upon up-and-coming college professor and writer John Cotter's soul-satisfying work and domestic life, its degrading effects on his hearing and sense of balance slam down an unwanted wall between his aspirations and the world beyond . . . An ill-understood condition, Meniere's drives the dispirited Cotter to pursue any number of clinics across the country for help in dealing with this isolating 'new normal' of greatly diminished hearing and unpredictable bouts of vertigo. Cotter is a grounded and reflective narrator of these struggles, and he envelopes the reader in grieving for the losses, little and big, as well as rejoicing in his numerous hard-won but successful adaptations, and concurrent optimism for what is to come. An added bonus: his historical anecdotes about changing attitudes and outlooks toward Meniere's can be as entertaining as they are, at other times, flummoxing. Losing Music is the outstanding work of a straightforward memoirist with a wry sense of humor who feels very much like a good friend."--Susan Braunstein, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Praise for Under the Small Lights"John Cotter's prose is lyric, his images unforgettable, his characters richly complicated. From the first sentence to the last, I was captivated by this story and the characters that call out to the reader with mystery and beauty and terror, like voices in the night. Under the Small Lights is a book to be savored, and John Cotter is an exciting new voice in contemporary fiction."--Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel"John Cotter has a way with words. He has a way with dialogue, with setting a scene, with crystallizing description and insight into just a handful of words. He has a way of wrapping his observations about lost generations, about the charade of the Bohemian lifestyle, about the fragility of ideals when they crash into immovable objects, into the characters themselves. . . . Cotter treats these themes with a rare intelligence and subtlety and a certain warmth for these characters who are charming and contemptible by turns. Cotter is going to be a writer to remember, and this is a great book. You should read it."--Tampa Bay (FL) Creative Loafing"Under the Small Lights is the kind of book I always look for and rarely find: a mellow meditation on friendship and romance and the romance of friendship told in prose straightforward and lovely. [Cotter's] characters are urbane and articulate, foolishly impulsive, and heartbreakingly earnest. It's been a long time since I've encountered a bildungsroman this successful, let alone a novella this bighearted."--Josh Russell, author of Yellow Jack"[Cotter] writes with insight, nuance, and respect for the complexity of these young people's lives. The prose is lyrical and lucid; the scenes are powerful and vivid."--The Rumpus"One of the strongest aspects of [Under the Small Lights] is Cotter's ease with natural-sounding dialogue, which sparks, shambles, and darts along--the rhythm of you and your friends goofing on each other. . . . The book also has the substantial advantage of having a great atmospheric beginning, excellent action-packed climax, and a poignant ending. Under the Small Lights is a very good read."--New Pages"[Under the Small Lights] moves through a series of scenes that surface like memories, wandering the way our attention spans and affections will, from friend to friend until our rash decisions blast everything away, or until we have to make new friends or risk the inevitable outcome that accompanies emulating / lusting after / emphatically loving your friends ...What might otherwise be construed as a group of selfish kids is instead a group of self-aware kids, who are easier to relate to and easier to love."--Lit Pub