cover image Making Love with the Land: Essays

Making Love with the Land: Essays

Joshua Whitehead. Univ. of Minnesota, $24.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-5179-1447-9

Novelist Whitehead (Jonny Appleseed) examines the relationship between queerness, the body, and language in his intimate first foray into nonfiction. In “I Own a Body That Wants to Break,” Whitehead reflects on his experience with disordered eating, finding that the root for the word body in Middle English means “trunk”: “Again this blanket of flesh is rooted in the land,” he writes. “Writing as a Rupture” considers genres and what autobiography means (“In what ways is an autobiography also an obituary?”), while “The Year in Video Gaming” examines how Fortnite served as “a medium for escapism, entertainment, and social enrichment” when his cousins turned to it after a death in the family. “My Aunties Are Wolverines” is a reflection on mourning, and “Who Names the Rez Dog Rez” asks “What does loneliness mean to a rez dog whose foot is wounded from a trapper’s coils?” Whitehead weaves Indigenous Cree language throughout the essays to powerful effect, and though his metaphors can at times be winding, he asks moving questions without resorting to simple answers—“Can a body be sovereign if you continually self-destruct it?” he asks, and “What does it mean to let go of the self?” Fans of the personal essay will relish Whitehead’s evocative, rich prose. Agent: Stephanie Sinclair, CookeMcDermid. (Nov.)