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The Art of Cruelty by Maggie Nelson.. Here’s a book that in its premise and scope reminds me of Dad’s ol’ chestnut, On Moral Fiction. Sure to attract a lot of haters, but powerful true and provocative stuff for art cognoscenti.

Joel Gardner, LitSnap Editor

"This is an important and frequently surprising book. By reframing the history of the avant-garde in terms of cruelty, and contesting the smugness and didacticism of artist-clinicians like the notorious Viennese Actionist Hermann Nitsch and other heirs of Sade and Artaud, Nelson is taking on modernism’s (and postmodernism’s) most cherished tenets.."

The New York Times

"Whatever distaste we may feel when they thrust brutality in our faces, Nelson is right to urge that we overcome our scruples and preconceptions and listen to what they are trying to tell us. Her struggles to follow her own advice are a useful reminder of just how hard that can be. ."


Author bio: Maggie Nelson is most recently the author of three books of nonfiction: a meditation on the color blue titled Bluets (Wave Books, 2009); a critical study of poetry and painting titled Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007; winner of the Susanne M. Glasscock Award for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, and a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant); and an autobiographical book about family, sexual violence, and media spectacle titled The Red Parts: A Memoir (Free Press, 2007; named a Notable Book of the Year by the State of Michigan). Her next nonfiction book will be a work of cultural and art criticism titled The Art of Cruelty, forthcoming from W. W. Norton. She also contributes to publications such as Artforum, Bookforum, Cabinet, and others. More information can be found here:

Book Details: General Nonfiction; (288 pp. Lacerating: Kindle/Print editions)

Publisher Website:

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