Read The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art by Eileen Myles Online


Poet and post-punk heroine Eileen Myles has always operated in the art, writing, and queer performance scenes as a kind of observant flaneur. Like Baudelaire's gentleman stroller, Myles travels the city--wandering on garbage-strewn New York streets in the heat of summer, drifting though the antiseptic malls of La Jolla, and riding in the van with Sister Spit--seeing it witPoet and post-punk heroine Eileen Myles has always operated in the art, writing, and queer performance scenes as a kind of observant flaneur. Like Baudelaire's gentleman stroller, Myles travels the city--wandering on garbage-strewn New York streets in the heat of summer, drifting though the antiseptic malls of La Jolla, and riding in the van with Sister Spit--seeing it with a poet's eye for detail and with the consciousness that writing about art and culture has always been a social gesture. Culled by the poet from twenty years of art writing, the essays in The Importance of Being Iceland make a lush document of her--and our--lives in these contemporary crowds. Framed by Myles's account of her travels in Iceland, these essays posit inbetweenness as the most vital position from which to perceive culture as a whole, and a fluidity in national identity as the best model for writing and thinking about art and culture. The essays include fresh takes on Thoreau's Cape Cod walk, working class speech, James Schulyer and Bjork, queer Russia and Robert Smithson; how-tos on writing an avant-garde poem and driving a battered Japanese car that resembles a menopausal body; and opinions on such widely ranging subjects as filmmaker Sadie Benning, actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Ted Berrigan's Sonnets, and flossing....

Title : The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781584350668
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 365 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art Reviews

  • Liza
    2019-07-15 10:37

    You know when someone would be hot, except that they think they are even hotter than they are, and it sort of cancels it out? Eileen Myles feels like that to me. Like she would be totally charming except that it is always all, look at me being charming, which completely kills the charm. It made me mad when she talked about tramping mud in that library in Iceland. Like, haha, you are telling a cute self-deprecating story about yourself but also wipe your damn feet.

  • Velvetink
    2019-07-21 11:47

    Eileen Myles - the Importance of Being Iceland. Rated it 4 stars. My reasons are probably different to yours. I wanted, no, LONGED to give it 5 or 6 stars, so swayed was I by other people's reviews (Artforum, Bruce Hainley, Semiotext(e) etc. etc.). Somehow Myles doesn't quite strike me as the next Gertrude Stein nor Djuna Barnes - close in a lot of ways but not quite. Eileen begins sentences with "Cause". That's short for "Because". That's an American thing I guess but it irks me in writing. It might sound right in hip hop and rap, and Daria episodes. My niece says it. It's cool. I'm old fashioned apparently, to be bothered by incorrect grammar, though that's a lie. My grammar can be appalling in emails, when I'm tired, and when I don't care. It's all about context I suppose. This book is prose, a series of articles, thoughts, & blogs. It's not song lyrics, rap, hip hop or poetry where it wouldn't bother me - a lot of it is close to stream of consciousness I probably should allow it, but still it bothered me.I haven't heard Eileen aurally or read anything else she's written. She could be hypnotising, she could have other things to say that fly the same path as Gertrude or higher and deeper but I don't know that yet, though guess she might with her involvement with Sister Spit. On confirming that point though will have to take a raincheck. I guess this is where utube comes in handy, but I'm rating the book not her public speaking.My rating of 4 stars was not for her grammar. I bought the book in the hope that it would take me new places, and open up my brain from the numb I've been feeling. It did. In different ways though than what I had imagined. You know that feeling you get when you discover a new (to you) writer who blows you away, you kind of fall in love with them and you have to get hold of everything that they ever wrote. I don't feel like that about Myles. Yet. Maybe if I read more. What she did for me was turn on all the go lights for me. Go lights inbetween the thoughts in my brain and the power of speech and the pressure of my fingers on the keyboard to get those feelings and words in font. Any kind of font. My numbness had reduced me to lists. Things to do and shopping lists. I think Eileen has done some kind of internal microsurgery on my brain. Yeah I know that sounds weird. For it was not anything specific that she wrote that precipated this..... Not the content but the FLOW. Does that make sense? I know it sounds suspiciously new ageish and old hippyish. I was blocked and couldn't write - could hardly put a sentence together for such a LONG time, and now I feel I can. No I don't think it's a miracle, she's not Jesus but something about the way she writes did affect me. Sure other things in my life have changed recently but "The Importance of Being Iceland" certainly was the fulcrum that made it happen - for me.The content on the other hand is all new to me mostly. Reviews of artists and writers, poets, performance artists, her travels with Sister Spit, Russia, Iceland (there wasn't enough of Iceland or Bjork - I did want more Russia, more Iceland, so in that I was slightly disappointed) and her general impressions of things, her writing, how she writes, and some of the gist of her lectures, places and people all of which inspired me to go find out about - since I've been living in some kind of limbo hibernation (not of my choosing) for so long. It gave me the feeling of being given a "let out of jail card", the world has all this stuff going on in it that I wasn't aware of and Myles has given us a taste of it. Naturally in America a lot of the people mentioned might be common knowledge but unknown where I sit stifling in the Antipodean outback, especially when I was wearing blinkers...It's a book I will go back to, for inspiration and open any chapter, it doesn't matter, because while it's linear in time, it's not a novel and in a sense that is why it's hard to review. Her blogs featured go up to 2006 and for many familiar with Myles that is probably too dated. For me right now it's not. Cause (ha) I have to catch up. ******************************************************************************************************** 30/12/2010-Arrived today! Thank you Book Depository for making it arrive on my birthday!.. Just bought it from the Book Depository UK. Cheaper than anywhere and free shipping to Australia. Hope it arrives before the New Year. In the meantime I can wait it out with my new harmless & mind numbing obsession - watching people buy books on the BD live.

  • Paulina
    2019-06-28 13:28

    Eileen Myles is fast becoming one of my favourite people ever."Sometimes I stayed in for days and days, and what renewed me was the precise dimensions of the buildings I lived in, in New York, first one in Soho, then another in the East Village, both very cheap. After having grown up in the suburbs with one set of noisy neighbors who intrigued me and the years of loudness and then silence in my house I now was the overjoyed witness to urban immigrancy up close. Howls of my neighbor's procession of boyfriends, the band practicing downstairs, the syncopated groans of our plumbing. And later, birds, years and years of them as I lived next door to a cemetery, and someone smoked upstairs on the fire escape and chatted softly with someone else and the toilet flushed. All these sounds were riveted in my heart for moments and years and years and they became the emblems of my freedom, sameness and silence. A distant dog." 155"I don't mind today, but the everyday makes me barf." 163"I hope you all find yourselves sleeping with someone you love, maybe not all of the time, but a lot of the time. The touch of a foot in the night is sincere. I hope you like your work, I hope there's mystery and poetry in your life - not even poems, but patterns. I hope you can see them. Often these patterns will wake you up, and you will know that you are alive, again and again." 180"... and no one really minds women fucking women and men fucking men, and if we would just do it quietly like heterosexuals do, then everything would be okay. And then you turn on the teevee and there's a cute romance, and then you change the channel and there's a show about a young girl coming of age and liking a boy, and then you watch another show about Seinfeld having a naked woman cleaning his apartment, and its really funny and of course you're bombarded with images of heterosexuality all day long, the man in the deli flirts with me, he just assumes I'm straight, and all the women in the clothes catalogues are eventually in a canoe with a man, if you're successful eventually you have to find a mate, it's just part of being human, to not stand alone, to put one next to the other one, and everybody applauds." 183"I just want to be frank about what you will be really living through.You'll be living through flossing. Years of it, both in the mirror and away from it, both with girlfriends and alone. Girlfriends will be really excited that you floss your teeth, because they should and they think it's really inspiring that you do that and they will ask you if they can do it with you because it's easier that way, bumping their hips and thighs against you while you keep peering at yourself under the shitty bathroom light. They will even talk glowingly over drinks with their friends about the really diligent way you have of flossing and then the little brushes and even how you rinse and you'll look at their friends who look kind of weirded out and you'll be thinking you're just making me sound really old. I mean why do you think I floss my teeth for like fifteen minutes every night. My father lost his teeth at forty and then he died at 44. Before I decided I also wanted to live I was utterly convinced that I would never lose my teeth and I have had tooth loosening and tooth loss dreams all my life, so in my twenties when I had never gone to therapy I decided that I would always privilege the dentist over the therapist and that I was really getting a two in one service when I went to the dentist but still when I drank I would often pass out before I could floss. Then I stopped drinking. I found myself in my thirties leaning into the mirror one night cleaning away and I thought: fuck, is this what I lived for - to floss." 251

  • Mary K
    2019-07-11 08:25

    "There's a place of many operations occurring in language, sometimes it's about stepping out of the machine, flying overhead. Sometimes it's about lying down and playing possum. There's no single way to catch the existence of words. Except that language is some kind of living myth we made up and somebody one at a time has to show us that." 196

  • M.
    2019-06-28 15:32

    this collection of essays, interviews, and blog posts joins acker's bodies of work and delany's about writing, as well as all of the Narrativity essays, this group of texts i'll return to again and again, they erupt with inspiration. blah. this book has a halo. the past month of waking up with coffee and fruit and a few pages from The Importance of Being Iceland has given me great joy. i find my mouth forming religious words whenever i speak of this book. overstatement but really eileen myles has with this collection brought me back to writing more than anything, well, since i read the aforementioned triumvirate of books.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-07-19 14:30

    This book is definitely entertaining to read, but also smart and perceptive. Myles' travel writing and poetics essays especially shine. The art essays can lack helpful descriptive material. I found myself reading it out loud to anyone who happened to be around me.

  • Cayden
    2019-07-02 14:52

    For some reason every time I open this book I read something that was exactly what I needed to hear at that specific moment in time.

  • Lia
    2019-06-26 15:53

    Always coming back to this book when I feel lonely or displaced.

  • Sara
    2019-06-25 11:42

    this book is so fat with love.

  • Jamie Tommins
    2019-07-17 11:45

    Eileen Myles is peerless

  • Chaserrrr
    2019-06-24 08:42

    Eileen forever.

  • Michelle
    2019-07-16 10:54

    If you're reading The Importance of Being Iceland solely for Iceland-related content, you might be a bit disappointed. Although Eileen Myles - the rambling lesbian counter-culture poet - discusses her love of Iceland's casually effusive art culture in the title essay, much of this collection of essays/speeches/blogs/etc. is focused on other things: American poets, art, music, queerness, and travel in general. As always, a lot of the art-world stuff goes way over my head, but I'm glad that I am finally recognizing some names - my self-schooling is paying off. Her prose is by turns poetically fanciful and stream-of-consciousness odd, which makes for amusing episodic reading. In many cases, I think I'd prefer to hear these pieces spoken rather than read. Two things from this volume I particularly liked: her prescient essay about being gay in Russia, and her essay on Allen Ginsberg's Howl, which I have previously enjoyed, but not fully appreciated.

  • Marie-pierre Stien
    2019-07-18 11:51

    This book is more or less a series of articles and interviews written as streams of consciousness. There are plenty of references to people and projects the reader is supposed to already know about although I suspect that would only be possible if the reader were part of the very small New York scene that Ms. Myles represents and that I happen to be very far from. Somewhat entertaining but too dense to want to read all of it.

  • Katie Christian
    2019-07-18 15:37

    Eileen Myles is an incredible writer, but reading this title first might've been a misstep (especially because I'm not a huge fan of reading art criticism when I can't see the art that's being discussed). Her introductory essay on Iceland was my favorite--though I'm not sure I totally understood Iceland as the connecting thread between pieces?--and her piece on flossing was a close second. Turned down lots of pages before remembering it belonged to the library.

  • Samantha
    2019-06-22 15:33

    Listened to E.M. read the first essay. Over the course of 1.5 hours, the 30 or 40 of us packed into Machine Project experienced the meanderings and confusion and reconceptualizings and uncertain discoveries that travel provides, plus weird run-ins with Bjork and Sigur Ros, without having to leave our chamomile and beanbag chairs. Can't imagine another out-loud voice I could stay with for so long. Someday I will travel again, and before I do, I'll read the rest of this book.

  • Melissa Frost
    2019-07-16 12:46

    By the end of this, you feel as if Myles is an extremely familiar friend, or perhaps you're even her. Her voice makes sense, feels natural and perhaps you even begin to emulate her, or thinking about that thing she said yesterday- wait, the thing you read? Really, so smart and funny and serious and honest and human, very human.

  • Sara Gray
    2019-07-11 07:36

    I like art, but I guess I'm not as up to snuff on current artists as I should be, as many of Myles' essays went over my head. Her travel and miscellaneous stuff (particularly the transcripts of some of her talks) were more accessible. Regardless, I was impressed by her limpid, stream-of-consciousness prose--the lady has some serious style.

  • Simon
    2019-07-16 13:30

    Conversational and casual essays as much in love with their subjects as the language they employ in pursuit of these subjects. Myles talks about art without any of the stodginess of the academy and with all the love of pure simple beauty that is required to be a poet. The two James Schyler essays are particularly good.

  • Rhea
    2019-07-08 11:37

    I want to go to Iceland now, for sure. Myles's essays are killer. It was almost jarring to read her writing about men - reading Myles is like a respite from men but they are in here! Her take on them is fascinating as ever, even though men are boring. The pieces about women are my favorite, though - the ones on Sister Spit, on her family, and on the artists of Iceland.

  • Cherie
    2019-07-11 07:37

    B If you think of this as a book of essas, you will be disappointed. If you think of it as prose poems and of poetry, it is wonderfully delightful. Myles plays with language in so many ways…fascinating, easy-to-digest essays. I miss her teaching at Naropa...the good old days, when I learned and wrote and thought so much.

  • Phillip
    2019-07-02 08:40

    GREAT series of essays, interviews, lectures, by the marvelous eileen myles - so glad to have discovered her fresh voice that is casual but uber observant and articulate. the series starts with a travel essay on iceland and fans out into a lot of different directions, but there is an interesting through line that connects all - kind of miraculous, really.

  • Monica
    2019-07-07 08:35

    A variety of essays, some on travel, some on art, interviews with artists...many republished from magazines, it seemed. I enjoyed many of them, including in particular the ones on Iceland and Alan Ginsberg. I didn't read them all. Sometimes her writing style got on my nerves.

  • Lawrence
    2019-07-13 09:29

    Love her.

  • Sarah
    2019-06-21 10:50

    Loving it. Enjoying taking my time.(Didn't finish but looking forward to returning to again and again)

  • flowerville
    2019-07-14 14:43

    loved it. very inspiring.

  • W.B.
    2019-07-08 12:38

    I can't wait to read this.