Halls of Fame

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Halls of Fame

Essays about Martha Graham to the Flat Earth Society, from the brightest light in Vegas to outsider artist Henry Darger.

“John D’Agata’s beautiful and distinctive first book performs an inspiring exit from the prison of genre: he has liberated the essay from the punishment of needing to explain or exposit, and has accorded it the freedom and the audacity of the poem. By opening up the space of “essay,” D’Agata sets forth the terms by which we may all—as readers and writers—be made free.”—PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction

“D’Agata is an alchemist who changes trash into purest gold.”—Harper’s Magazine

“A daring, utterly original book by a young writer of rare intelligence and artistry. In Halls of Fame, John D’Agata sniffs out the quirky corners of our culture and makes them revelatory. With wit and finesse, and writing that’s as much poetry as it is prose, John D’Agata is redefining the modern American essay.”—Annie Dillard

“John D’Agata is one of the most significant U.S. writers to emerge in the past few years.” —David Foster Wallace

John D’Agata has created a collection of essays like a stealth bomb.”—American Book Review

“Real art matters now. . . . In Halls of Fame it matters that a young writer named John D’Agata is experimenting with essays that reconfigure dream, fact and reflection.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Adept at collage, found poetry, paragraphs long and short, lists, characterization, direct quotes, the prose poem, fragments, spoofing, and a perceptiveness that sometimes only dispassionate description can achieve, D’Agata hovers like a moth around the sparks created where the known and the unknown rub against each other.”—Ruminator Review

“An exemplar of the literary movement toward linking the genres of poetry and the essay, D’Agata blends both to create an inviting, elliptical puzzle of American life. . . . The cutting edge of literature.”—Publishers Weekly

“John D’Agata’s Halls of Fame is gorgeous, daring language exerted on behalf of a friendly—but very, very watchful—intelligence. He is a poet in his soul and, through his prose, on the page. He makes the essay, from start to finish, new. —Frederick Busch

“With the diligence of a manic tour guide, D’Agata exhaustively catalogues his encounters, inventing whole new ways of looking as he goes.”—Rain Taxi

“Here is an essayist who fears nothing.”—Exquisite Corpse

“The dialectic between showing and looking, between telling and knowing, is D’Agata’s subject and his supremacy; these lyric essays result in further questions, for such a process does not ‘lead’ to mere answers; when such prodigies of mystery as Henry Darger or Martha Graham are at issue, this turn of mind, this trope of thinking, is a revelation; that is the discursive poet’s program:  to reveal, and indeed his progress through the generality of our native offerings is a triumphant one; not since Butor’s Mobile have I learned so much about America’s creases and crannies, such learning being a complexion of pains and pleasures.”—Richard Howard