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Pop Song: Adventures in Art & Intimacy (Hardcover)

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May 2021 Indie Next List

Pop Song is an engaging blend of art criticism, memoir, and travelogue with the raw and confessional style of the microblogging generation. Larissa Pham’s prose bounces seamlessly and dexterously from looking outward to inward and back with equal attention, passion, and insight.”
— Matt Stowe, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY


"A fresh, energetic voice with a brilliant mind to power it," brings readers an endlessly inventive, intimate, and provocative memoir-in-essays that celebrates the strange and exquisite state of falling in love--whether with a painting or a person--and interweaves incisive commentary on modern life, feminism, art and sex with the author's own experiences of obsession, heartbreak, and past trauma (Esmé Weijun Wang, New York Times bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias).

Like a song that feels written just for you, Larissa Pham's debut work of nonfiction captures the imagination and refuses to let go.

Pop Song is a book about love and about falling in love--with a place, or a painting, or a person--and the joy and terror inherent in the experience of that love. Plumbing the well of culture for clues and patterns about love and loss--from Agnes Martin's abstract paintings to James Turrell's transcendent light works, and Anne Carson's Eros the Bittersweet to Frank Ocean's Blonde--Pham writes of her youthful attempts to find meaning in travel, sex, drugs, and art, before sensing that she might need to turn her gaze upon herself.   

Pop Song is also a book about distances, near and far. As she travels from Taos, New Mexico, to Shanghai, China and beyond, Pham meditates on the miles we are willing to cover to get away from ourselves, or those who hurt us, and the impossible gaps that can exist between two people sharing a bed.

Pop Song is a book about all the routes by which we might escape our own needs before finally finding a way home. There is heartache in these pages, but Pham's electric ways of seeing create a perfectly fractured portrait of modern intimacy that is triumphant in both its vulnerability and restlessness.

About the Author

Larissa Pham is an artist and writer in Brooklyn. Born in Portland, Oregon, she studied painting and art history at Yale University. She has written essays and criticism for the Paris Review Daily, The Nation, Art in America, Guernica, and elsewhere. She was an inaugural Yi Dae Up fellowship recipient from the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She is also the author of Fantasian, a novella.

Praise For…

BuzzFeed Most Anticipated Book of the Year
A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year
One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Year
A Paperback Paris Most Anticipated Book

"Larissa Pham combines the thrilling and agonized travails of her young narrator with the lucid and steady eye of a born critic. The combination is a compelling portrait of one artist's development through the mirrors of her (and many of my) favorite artists. Pop Song is a bold and promising debut."  —Melissa Febos 

"Each of the essays in this debut collection reads like a mini-memoir in ekphrasis, in which the author reflects on her experiences of young love, trauma, and transcendence through discussions of art and music. Larissa Pham writes about Agnes Martin, Nan Goldin, and Frank Ocean with an intimacy that is at once tender and expansive." —Cornelia Channing, New York Magazine 

"Artist and lit world phenom Larissa Pham’s debut essay collection is like a literary mixtape, which makes its title all the more apt. In her pieces about travel, sex, loss, and inner work, Pham builds a magpie-like nest out of cultural references . . . a volume that feels comfortingly worn-in and relatably restless." —Keely Weiss, Harper's Bazaar 

"A stunning, vulnerable memoir-in-essays . . . a nuanced story about the nonlinear process of overcoming heartbreak and letting go." —Lydia Wang, BUST

"The essays in this tender book balance artistic, academic engagement with personal narrative . . . This book offers a warm and expansive portrait of a woman’s mind that feels at once singular and universal." —Annie Diamond, BuzzFeed

"There are a few different ways to experience transcendence in this life, and, in her debut book, Larissa Pham explores them all, from love to sex to art, never afraid to get up close and personal with the sublime. Pham's memoir-in-essays follows her as she finds escape in things and people and places; becomes obsessed, infatuated, in love; and figures out that her intense feelings surrounding books and albums and people were all related to her own journey toward accepting herself as being just as worthy of love—just as transcendent—as all of the many beautiful, wondrous things around her." ––Kristin Iversen, Refinery29, One of the Best New Books of the Year

"A tender heartache of a book, this memoir will make you feel seen in all the right ways." —K.W. Colyard, Bustle

“[Pop Song] tweezes from pop-culture ephemera—transcendent pieces of art from James Turrell's light sculptures to Frank Ocean's album Blond—to draw connections to distance and intimacy in travel, love, and loss . . . A smart book.” —Thrillist

"What makes Pham’s book so special . . . is how she shows the tangle between 'art and intimacy,' how the two are not separate, allowing the various parts of the book to bleed into each other to a resonant end . . . This is one of those books I know I will be reading and rereading for a long time." —Gabriel Chazan, The Expanded Field

"In a manner reminiscent of contemporaries Leslie Jamison and Jia Tolentino, Pham seamlessly blends the personal and the cultural, the confessional and the critical, the cerebral and the sentimental, to create an exciting and imaginative memoir. A vital playlist that hits all the right notes; readers will reach the end ready to hit repeat." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Pham reinvents the memoir in a stirring debut that explores the power of language, art, and love . . . This is a masterpiece." —Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

"Pham brings intellectual power, sensuousness, and psychological astuteness to her encounters with art . . . A thrillingly frank and incisive self-portrait." —Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9781646220267
ISBN-10: 1646220269
Publisher: Catapult
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Pages: 288
Language: English