The Complete Ballet: A Fictional Essay in Five Acts


Product Details

$16.00  $14.88
Graywolf Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 0.6 X 8.2 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

John Haskell is the author of the story collection I Am Not Jackson Pollock and the novels American Purgatorio and Out of My Skin. His stories and essays have appeared on the radio, in anthologies, and in many magazines. He lives in Brooklyn.


"The Complete Ballet is a very absorbing, even thrilling, novel. . . . Haskell's achievement lies in both the sustained emotional stakes of his book and in the fruitful experiment in adaptation and ekphrasis."--New Republic

"[The Complete Ballet] feels like a formal breakthrough. The result is something both spontaneous and sculpted, fragmented yet also fluid, a construction that mimics the ever-changing contours of a broken heart."--BOMB Magazine

"Chances are good that you've never read a book quite like The Complete Ballet, a genre-bending mix of dance criticism and novel/fictional memoir that is unique in concept and execution. It is by turns engaging, illuminating, ridiculous, funny, heart-wrenching, and educational."--Washington Independent Review of Books

"It's this shape-shifting insistence we have as humans, as dancers trying our best not to collide with each other, that seems to be at the core of The Complete Ballet, and Haskell does a beautiful job suggesting the risky nature of this life."--PopMatters

"Using words to describe a primarily physical art form, in turn allowing those described steps and gestures to stand in where words cannot, makes Haskell into both choreographer and writer, and characters into dancers and vice versa. Its absorbing experiment--using one art to enhance and test another--also creates the dualism of our role as both reader and audience, positing us both in our seats and backstage, peering from the wings onto the stage, watching the spotlight drift from dancer to dancer."--Ploughshares

"The artfulness and compelling power of [Haskell's] prose is deceptive in its apparent simplicity: and raises the question of how it can be so funny, insightful and lightly worn. . . . The Complete Ballet is full of narrative surprises -- often from one sentence to another. It can be read as a sophisticated noir novel even as it pointedly undercuts its own sophistication. . . . The writing on the page appears effortless. Grounded in its Cassavetes-influenced noir story, Haskell has composed a complete ballet that's funny, harrowing, dark, and vertiginous."--3: AM Magazine

"The Complete Ballet is a marvelously inventive and compelling novel."--Largehearted Boy

"Spellbinding. . . . The expertise [Haskell] demonstrates about ballet engenders comfort, a sense of being in good hands, being told exactly what's necessary. The book shifts regularly from fiction to criticism, from biography to character study, in gentle, expert scene changes visible on the stage."--Anomaly

"The Complete Ballet reads like a gracefully choreographed dance. It leaps between truth and fiction, romance and crime, grabbing the reader by the hand and leading you gracefully onto the stage and into literary meditation. John Haskell is a master."--Parnassus Musing

"Fiction and essay share the stage in Haskell's captivating, erudite novel. . . . In imaginative, analytical, affectless prose, Haskell gives new life to well-known stories danced onstage, constructing interiorities and motivations for the characters, and drawing connections between the emotions of the ballets and his narrator's story."--Publishers Weekly

"[The Complete Ballet] blurs the line between fact and fiction, action and meditation, telling a story or a series of stories while at the same time reflecting on what they mean. The subject is ballet, about which Haskell is knowledgeable and astute. . . . He writes deftly, meaningfully, about the fluidity of experience and the self."--Kirkus Reviews