Mary Cappello's Lecture is a song for the forgotten art of the lecture. Brimming with energy and erudition, it is an attempt to restore the lecture's capacity to wander, question, and excite. Cappello draws on examples from Virginia Woolf to Mary Ruefle, Ralph Waldo Emerson to James Baldwin, blending rigorous cultural criticism with personal history to explore the lecture in its many forms—from the aphorism to the note—and give new life to knowledge’s dramatic form.
“After reading this eloquent book, anyone will agree that the lecture is not archaic, but rather waiting for a vital new mode.”—Publishers Weekly
"A lively and playful challenge to resuscitate a form that has been considered all but dead."—Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Mary Cappello
“In these captivating essays, which meld memoir, philosophical meditations, and reports from excursions, far, deeply interior and wide, Cappello explores the abstract, amorphous notion of mood…Cappello’s fresh inquisitiveness and surprising trains of thought may well remind readers of the ruminative writings of Adam Phillips or Alain de Botton. An illuminating celebration of enveloping moments of being.”—Kirkus Review, Starred Review
“I’m tempted to begin by comparing Mary Cappello to other contemporary literary nonfiction writers who meld memory and lyric impression with intellectual passion. Writers who come to mind—Rebecca Solnit, Maggie Nelson, Wayne Koestenbaum, bell hooks—certainly share borderlines and affinities, but none of their works really resemble the books that come of Cappello’s singular voice and lens. Cappello’s compositions are at once sonic memoir, embodied criticism, and narrative cultural observation, drawing the attentive reader into what we might call the queer corporeal idea… Cappello’s new book, Life Breaks In, is at once rhapsodic, sensate, and intellectually captivating… Reading Life Breaks In is, indeed, a kind of listening. It is time spent in a language-made listening room, a stroll into shifting human emotive time, a resounding of memory, imagination, story, and thought.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“The infinite play of non-knowledge, of knowing that she doesn’t know, continues to write with her and for her, with a suspenseful, tumultuous virtuosity…I’m convinced that Montaigne would have liked it very much.”—The Yale Review
“Life Breaks In makes me think of the workings of big minds like Anne Carson’s, Carole Maso’s, or Susan Howe’s (e.g. My Emily Dickinson), all relentlessly curious and similarly fearless, all four writers irrepressible masters at their craft, creating full-immersion experiences for any reader willing to go on the journey. The pleasures for me were both aesthetic, in how original and fine the writing, and esoteric, in how much I learned. Mary Cappello is a brilliant and exuberant original.”—Catherine Reid, author of Falling into Place