Both provocatively and evocatively written, the book illuminates the process of becoming.” —Kirkus Reviews “A perceptive and compassionate narrative that beautifully breaks with the limits of genre and gender.” —Publishers Weekly
“Fleischmann is not only staking out but literally inventing a territory of their own.” —Los Angeles Times
“This is a book about paying attention and sometimes failing to, about showing the ways in which attention, no matter how well focused, can be or feel insufficient. Fleischmann is not wringing their hands but instead leaning into the world, constantly pressing at the corners of language . . . Watchful of its context and position, this book is able to pose increasingly interesting, urgent, and difficult questions. It holds us accountable to the world.” —The Paris Review Daily
"Fleischmann’s path through self-expression, gender fluidity, and self-understanding is well worth our attention." —Literary Hub
“A meditation on relationships, place, proximity and distance, belonging, community, gender, politics, the body and, well, love, and all the things that can mean, braided with digressive, descriptive passages about the work of Cuban-born American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres.” —Frieze
“The story of the author's own exploration of queerness and identity, this is an all-too-important book at a time when LGBTQIA+ rights are at risk of regression.” —Bustle
“Chicago-based writer T Fleischmann melds personal narrative and art criticism in a poetically titled, genre-defying work. Mining the interactive art of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, this book-length essay explores power, desire, gender fluidity and subverting limitations.” —Chicago Tribune
“Fleischmann combines serious engagement with warmth and clarity of prose, reveling in the experiences and pleasures of art and the body, identity and community.” —The Rumpus
“It is this spirit of generosity that makes Fleischmann’s book so luminous—a generosity towards the queer body and its existence, a generosity towards the work of activism, a recognition both of the work that needs to be done and the work that is being done.” —Longreads
"The long, sprawling essay bends prose and language to seek both intimacy and the alive body." —The Brooklyn Rail
“Meditative, beautiful, and revolutionary.” —Book Riot
"With this book-length essay, T Fleischmann has given us a truly unique work…poetic, powerful, and subversive." —Ms. Magazine
“Interspersing frank personal narrative with lyrical, line-broken passages from an unfinished meditation on Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Fleischmann offers up pearls, pills, candies, and miniature portraits of their friends and lovers in acts of generosity that are self-questioning but never self-doubting. Rather, it’s the notion of a unified self itself that splits and spills across these pages with honesty, empathy, and often stunning delicacy.” —Barbara Browning“By turns blunt, confrontational, eloquent, exciting, original, and somewhat indescribable.” —The Gay & Lesbian Review
“T Fleischmann's new book explores art and relationships with a perceptive eye and beautiful prose.” —Star Tribune
“Non-fiction piled on top of an art critique balanced on photographs and spun around by poetry.” —Columbia Journal
“Fleischmann blends their own experiences with the art of Felix Gonzalez-Torres to meditate on loss, violence, love and gender.” —Chicago Tribune
“Fleischmann’s book is also generous in its refusal to wrap up or resolve, leaving a wealth of inquiries to be pursued, an endless supply of thoughts feeding thoughts.” —The Arkansas International
“To eat the candy; it’s candy from “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s ‘spill’ of wrapped sweets selected and arranged by the curator of the art museum in which it is displayed. In Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through, this moment is protracted. It becomes both duration, the thing that varies time or stops it, and also a block of sensations that might be received by the reader and discharged by their own capacity to taste it too: ‘The candy was very sweet, and it was melting.’ T Fleischmann has written a book like this, one that is ‘spilled and gestured’ between radical others of many kinds. Is this love? Is this ‘the only chance to make of it an object’? Is this what it’s like to be here at all? To write ‘all words of life.’ And how intimate that is. A form of social privacy. Fleischmann: ‘But maybe that’s okay. Even when imagining takes us away, it still begins with what’s already here.’ Yes. It feels like that. It does.” —Bhanu KapilPraise for T Fleischmann “How to describe the indescribable might as well be the title of this blurb, if we titled blurbs, since like any good essay, cowgirl, or wandering ghost, T Fleischmann’s Syzygy, Beauty is electric and resists being fenced in. Sometimes solid, sometimes not, like magma or the household magic of corn starch and water, Fleischmann works and perforates the spaces between body and nobody; desire, declaration, and dream; whiskey, sex, and subjectivity; art, ecstasy, and surface tension. Spectral and spectacular, Syzygy, Beauty will haunt you in a way you’ll remember.” —Ander Monson“T Fleischmann’s Syzygy, Beauty shimmers with confidence as it tours the surreal chaos of gender, art, and desire. Its declarative sentences—seductive, abject, caustic, moving, informative, and utterly inventive—herald a new world, one in which we are blessedly ‘here with outfits like strings of light and no future.’ I hail its weirdness, its ‘armpit frankess,’ its indelible portrait of occulted relation, and above all, its impeccable music.” —Maggie Nelson“Let me say first that T Fleischmann’s writing helps us see ourselves. Helping us see clearer what has been muddled in our lives is marvelous, and is the best possible endowment of strength. What better substance? Gluing fur to logic’ as T writes. ‘There is imagination in truth,’ and while T brands this an essay I sense it as poetry because I live through poetry. Whatever you call it, you too will be transfigured. Those who say reading a book changes nothing have been wasting their time reading the wrong things. Do you also know someone who says so? Send them this one.” —CA Conrad, author of The Book of Frank “A complex, tightly wound (and wounded) cri de coeur that is simultaneously accessible and intensely, cryptically personal.” —Star Tribune “In Syzygy, Beauty, T Fleischmann re-imagines the essay, creating a spare little book that reads like a collection of prose poems. Moving between anecdote and observation, fantasy and memory, it traces the story of a relationship—or does it? For Fleischmann, ambiguity is the point, and the more we read, the more the lines here blur. ‘By describing something,’ [they write], ‘we place it at a distance.’” — Los Angeles Times
A sharp memoir that explores gender, identity, and other complex, timely matters.
Even before considering the idea of binary gender identity as an illusion, this book would be difficult to categorize; it is an intriguing mixture of memoir, manifesto, arts criticism, and prose poem. The settings include Manhattan, Chicago, Tennessee, Seattle, and Berlin, with Iceland and Greenland on the horizon. Fleischmann (Syzygy, Beauty, 2012) offers different perspectives on one relationship that provides a focus, one that is "joined somewhere between the platonic and the erotic." Even there—maybe especially there—distinctions, categories, and motivations prove difficult. "I was born in 1983," writes Fleischmann, "and heard for the first decade of my life no mention of queerness outside of the context of hate and epidemic. As media representation and legal protections grew in the following years, so too did a queer cultural anxiety around political collapse, and a gnawing awareness that those protections were flimsy, insufficient at best….it seemed urgent that I resist the mainstreaming of queerness and sustain a more radical tradition, assimilation being a form of death." As a teenager, the author recounts experiencing the feeling, "I'm hideous and I'm gay," and how they made pilgrimages to New York and Chicago to explore the limitless possibilities of identity, subsequently discovering that there "are actually rural pockets…all over the country, of weird people…doing all sorts of odd things in places you wouldn't expect." Throughout the book, identity remains as fluid as gender, as the author investigates both in interesting ways. Providing a reference point across the text is the work of gay artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose art has inspired the author to interpret personal experience and response through the lens of queer relationships.
Both provocatively and evocatively written, the book illuminates the process of becoming.