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The Awful Truth

Diana Hamilton

Published Fall 2017

Paperback, 152pp.

Book Description

In this book, Diana Hamilton extends her previous explorations of ethics and techniques of self-control (Okay, Okay and Some Shit Advice) onto the fraught terrain of authorship and selfhood: in two long pieces, The Awful Truth draws with wry seriousness on psychoanalytic theory, film criticism, memoir, and self-help literature to interrogate contemporary bromides drawn from philosophy, online forums, CBT, and Women's Health alike. Part homage to influences like Bernadette Mayer, part restless meditation on love and identity, "Write in Your Sleep" is a verse 'annotated bibliography' in which the narrator ardently catalogs her dreams in an attempt to discover a link between life and art that dodges both. In the second piece, a novella titled "Fear and Trembling," a woman who styles herself a therapeutic innovator forces her friends to reenact Hollywood classics, only to be rebuffed by one friend's adaptation of Kierkegaard as paranoiac sci-fi erotica centered around a Bartlebyesque refusal to perform free emotional labor. With a keen sense of both the consolations and the limits of the various genres that animate her work, Hamilton surveys the semiotic scramble of 21st-century subjectivity — obsessions with health and productivity, privacy and commodification — and lays bare the masochism implicit in moralistic imperatives to improve ourselves and to capitalize (literally) on our repressions.


+Poetry Foundation staff pick The Awful Truth in best books of 2017


"If the two halves of The Awful Truth constitute a diptych in their relationship to each other, and loosely allegorize the relationship of dreamer to the text they make from their dreams, inside each there is yet enormous variation, movement, contradiction, digression, and wonder. It is a work full of study, intellect, humor, and pathos."

—Brandon Brown, reviewing The Awful Truth for Entropy


"We need, they say, 'a machine for fighting anxiety' that would allow us to act out of desire rather than fear. Hamilton’s book is a utopia of sharing and listening that exceeds social norms—that reorients our fears about the world into desire for our friends and for our lovers and for a better world for us all."

—Marie Buck, reviewing The Awful Truth for Harriet


"All throughout this book there is an orientation of care. It is in Hamilton’s own precise writing and effort toward the true (even if it is awful), but also her care for others and a powerful discipline that, no matter our confusions about ourselves or the world, it is never unclear that we should always try to treat each other right."

—Ryo Yamaguchi, reviewing The Awful Truth for Michigan Quarterly Review

About the Author

Diana Hamilton writes about crying, shitting, consenting, kissing, dreaming, fainting, writing, and reading. Specifically, she's published a few books on these subjects: God Was Right (Ugly Duckling Presse), a collect of poem-essays about cats' deaths, friendship, love, and Jane Austen; The Awful Truth (Golias Books), an annotated bibliography of dreams and a novella about anxiety; and Okay, Okay (Truck Books), a book of poetry (mostly) about women crying at work. She's also published some chapbooks, including Universe (Ugly Duckling) and Some Shit Advice (The Physiocrats). You can walk through audio recordings of her dreams in Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford's videogame, Diana Hamilton's Dreams (Gauss PDF), which is a sister project to The Awful Truth. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Cornell University, where she wrote about "style." She teaches writing in New York. She is from Indiana.


Visit the author's site [here].