Figure It Out
"I'm a lifelong student of star culture; in that school, I matriculated early. (At age four.) And, at the beginning of my studies, I understood that obsolescence was the preferable liqueur, even though the world might condescend to superceded figures. Why I love the obsolete is a long story. Longer, perhaps, is the story of why I think it is my mission to convince the world to love the obsolete." or "Also, I want the liberty to use the word penis as a mutating signifier, not as the tried-and-true motherlode of obviousness that wears us all down."
"This essay is composed in crots. 'Crots' is a term I learned from Barth."
"Unfortunately, there is little humor in this essay—unless we step back from the voice of its narrator, and imagine him as a character, a foolish, fearful, adamant man, gripped by a misconception."
"I wonder now, as I write this allegory, why I considered Jewishness to be a bedrock matter, lending coherence to all attributes of the person, including the thickness and thoroughness of the beard."
"Here are five of my painting notes. If you want to help me sculpt them into literature, be my guest."
"The mop I’m dragging across my prose’s floor, at the moment, is the allegory mop."
"Buy a one-dollar cactus, and start anthropomorphizing it. Call it Sabrina."
“Describe an ungenerous or unkind act you have committed.”
“Reimagine doing the laundry as having an orgasm, and reinterpret orgasm as not a tiny experience, temporally limited, occurring in a single human body, but as an experience that somehow touches on all of human history.”
"As a critic, I exist in relation to others—artists, stars, books, artifacts. I question this state of relatedness, this tether, this necessity of hinging my perceptions to the work of others: however, this condition of being-tethered is itself a worthy, enormous subject, and I am glad to be tethered, glad to expatiate on the dimensions of the tethering. I see because this work permits me to see; this artwork gives me the license to write, to observe, to exist not merely as a grim solitude, but as an object in relation to other objects."
Bookseller Praise for Figure It Out
"Anxious, erudite, and always a pleasure, Koestenbaum approaches the world with the gleeful curiosity of a friendly pervert. I wish that I could crush up his essays and snort them. Surely they would produce the same giddy, expansive, tooth-gritting high as MDMA cut with just a little too much speed." —Ill Nippashi, Pegasus Books (Berkeley, CA)
"Wayne Koestenbaum’s deep and wide knowledge of art and literature, his respect for sentences and punctuation, and his passion for ambiguity of form and function make these febrile essays a joy to read. With the exercises he suggests, and using his ecstatic influence as a guide, we can puzzle through our need for answers in writing and find a new consciousness—like seeing our hometowns from above for the first time." —Adam Possehl, Powell's Books (Portland, OR)