Whether investigating refugee parrots, indentured elephants, the pathetic fallacy, or the revolving absurdity of the human role in the “invasive species crisis,” Personhood reveals how the unmistakable problem between humans and our nonhuman relatives is too often the derangement of our narratives and the resulting lack of situational awareness. Building on her previous collection, Bird Lovers, Backyard, Thalia Field’s essayistic investigations invite us on a humorous, heartbroken journey into how people attempt to control the fragile complexities of a shared planet. The lived experiences of animals, and other historical actors, provide unique literary-ecological responses to the exigencies of injustice and to our delusions of special status.
Leave to Remain is a faux spy-novel possessed by the spirit of Janus: doubleness, duplicity, double-entendres, two-facedness, bridges and doorways―as is only appropriate for a work composed by two writers: one French, one American.
Two-faced Janus resurrects into a time-traveling adventure, a tour of double-agents, double-speak, and double-dealings. In their earlier hybrid essay, A Prank of Georges (2010), Thalia Field and Abigail Lang returned us to "the primal force of language: naming" (Susan Howe).
In Leave to Remain, a weathered Janus pursues an elusive quest, responding to a world of war, traitors, translations, and the slippery personal and political terrain between friends and enemies.
This silly and deadly serious fiction-essay aims at nothing less than a full inquiry into how monstrous we are when we define loyalties and defend definitions, and how we are all double-agents seeking meaning and intelligence. Unafraid of being both timeless and timely, Leave to Remain challenges the reader to play in the world of folded imagery and language.
and, for a quick review:
from a through-line of marital discord in the household of the great French vivisector, Claud Bernard, Thalia Field has discovered a number of voices, some famous, some forgotten, and allowed them
all a moment in which to be heard again. This compelling tale is made up largely of excerpts and quotations, pieced together with great artistry. A beautiful and thought-provoking collage of a
tale of rescued history and a sobering tribute to some of its victims.”
Karen Joy Fowler, Author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
"Advancing what she started twenty years ago with her earliest explorations of essayistic fiction,
Thalia Field has now composed what very well might be her life’s work—a tragic, comical, and utterly fascinating tale of a marriage that vividly encapsulates not only the origins of experimental
medicine, but an entire age that spirited experiments in literature, science, engineering, film, etc. It’s nothing less than a history—gorgeously fictional, purposefully essayistic—of how we got
where we are."
John D'Agata, Author of About A Mountain, Editor, The Making of the American Essay
“Difficult moral questions always exist—for those willing to tackle them. Fanny Bernard, wife of Claude Bernard, endured at the intersection of the oppression of women, human slavery, war, and most of all, Claude’s victimization of live animals at the altar of science. Hers is a fascinating tale, elegantly told.”
Joyce Tischler, Founder, Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Bird Lovers, Backyard continues Thalia Field’s interrogation of the act of storytelling and her experimentation with literary genre. Field’s illuminating essays, or stories, in poetic form, place scientists, philosophers, animals, even the military, in real and imagined events. Her open questioning brings in subjects as diverse as pigeons, chat rooms, nuclear testing, the building of the Kennedy Space Center, the development of seaside beaches, Konrad Lorenz, the American author and animal trainer Vicki Hearne, and the Swiss zoologist Heini Hediger. Throughout, she intermingles fact and fiction, probing the porous boundaries between human and animal, calling into question “what we are willing to do with words,” and spinning a world where life is haunted by echoes. Story and event survive through daring language, and the elegies of history.
"Between the inward tension of the point and the outward push of the line, Thalia Field maps a force field of relations, power games, shifting configurations. In a language both cool and intense, and with a surveyor's precision. But for all the geometries, we are irresistibly pulled towards the center, the emotion which cannot be stated or described, only surrounded, so that the real story happens in teh consciousness of the reader.
In A Prank of Georges, Abigail Lang & Thalia Field create a dazzling set of variations in, about, and around lines from Gertrude Stein. Stein’s lines become threads with which Lang & Field weave a text heterolingual and ludic, in which the play of names becomes a matter of meaning’s performing. The question here is not “what the poem says,” but how it keeps on keeps on saying.
For William Carlos Williams a poem is a small or large machine made out of words. Thalia Field and Abigail Lang have taken this proposition seriously, yet playfully. Their luminous pas de deux ludically conjures Gertrude Stein to construct a textual game that leaps linguistic and cultural rifts to find the commonalities of “various chain.” Together these poets return us to the primal force of language: naming.
Thalia Field's inventive new book explores the very condition of being incarnate: how, invested with human form, we experience both suffering and ecstasy from childhood to adulthood to death. As with her previous book published by New Directions, Point and Line (2000), Incarnate defies categorization: it "industriously works the sparsely populated and as yet under-developed borderlands between poetry, fiction, theater, and contemporary classical music" (Review of Contemporary Fiction). In Incarnate: Story Material, she continues to reach beyond borders, examining how, trapped in our own stories, we act and react in a world of solidity, perceiving something "other" close at hand. With its amazing variety of poetic and prose-like forms, driven by a fierce and playful intelligence, Incarnate: Story Material challenges and moves us.
Operatic in scope, ULULU (Clown Shrapnel) is a dramatic, genre-bending narrative and a lyrical cultural biography of the archetypal seductress Lulu. In a furious performance of text and imagery, Thalia Field introduces us to the stock characters of the commedia, the famous plays, operas, and silent films in which Lulu appeared, the artists who brought her to life, and the censorship and controversy that she engendered.
The myth of “Lulu” began during the height of late-nineteenth-century Viennese culture with a sequence of two plays by Frank Wedekind (Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box), and continued through the two world wars with Lulu, an unfinished opera by Alban Berg, and Pandora’s Box, a highly acclaimed film by G.W. Pabst, starring Louise Brooks.
Throughout all of Lulu’s incarnations she met with censure—Wedekind’s plays were banned from the stage, Berg’s opera, which contained a secret score for his young lover, was kept from the public by his widow, and Pabst’s erotic film was too risqué for many.
As Field’s story peeks into the dressing rooms and back alleys of history, words take the stage, “fictional” and “historical” characters speak side by side, and lyrical symbolism undulates throughout the pages. Original and treated footage from award-winning filmmaker Bill Morrison and illustrations from artist Abbot Stranahan complete this masterful work of avant-garde fiction.