cover image The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between

The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between

Stacey D’Erasmo. Graywolf (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, dist.), $12 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-55597-647-7

Part of Graywolf’s “Art of” series on the craft of writing, edited by Charles Baxter, this first work of nonfiction by novelist D’Erasmo (The Sky Below) examines the concept of intimacy and the ways this mysterious phenomenon has been conveyed by writers, visual artists, and filmmakers. D’Erasmo organizes the book into chapters based on the places where intimacy occurs, though these settings are themselves abstract: “Meeting in the Image”; “Meeting in the If”; “Meeting in the Dark.” The word intimacy evokes images of love, but the book also delves into the darker side of the subject: obsession. The relationship between a torturer and his victim, D’Erasmo argues, is fundamentally similar to the relationship between a man and woman having deeply emotional sex. The book’s highlight is the meta-textual section “Meeting in the White Space,” in which even the reader’s own intimacy with the author is held up for inspection. This can mean either the author divulging moments of vulnerability, as D’Erasmo does mere pages earlier, or works of fiction in which the reader’s interpretation of a character’s actions makes him or her complicit in the events that unfold. D’Erasmo provides a lucid and provocative examination of the ill-defined concept of intimacy. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris. (July)