Fitzcarraldo Editions, London

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Pretentiousness: Why it Matters
by Dan Fox


What is pretentiousness? Why do we despise it? And more controversially: why is it vital to a thriving culture? In this brilliant, passionate essay, Dan Fox argues that it has always been an essential mechanism of the arts, from the most wildly successful pop music and fashion through to the most recondite avenues of literature and the visual arts. Pretentiousness: Why it Matters unpacks the uses and abuses of the term, tracing its connections to theatre, politics and class. From method acting to vogueing balls in Harlem, from Brian Eno to normcore, Fox draws on a wide range of references in advocating critical imagination and open-mindedness over knee-jerk accusations of elitism or simple fear of the new and the different. Drawing on his own experiences growing up and working at the more radical edges of the arts, this book is a timely defence of pretentiousness as a necessity for innovation and diversity in our culture.

‘Pretentiousness: Why it Matters is more than a smartly counterintuitive encomium: it’s a lucid and impassioned defence of thinking, creating and, ultimately, living in a world increasingly dominated by the massed forces of social and intellectual conservatism.’ – Tom McCarthy, author of Satin Island

Dan Fox is a writer, musician, and co-editor of frieze magazine, Europe’s foremost magazine of art and culture. He is based in New York.

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Nicotine
by Gregor Hens


Written with the passion of an obsessive, Nicotine addresses a life of addiction, from the epiphany of the first drag to the perennial last last cigarette. Reflecting on his experiences as a smoker from a young age, Gregor Hens investigates the irreversible effects of nicotine on thought and patterns of behaviours. He extends the conversation with other smokers to meditations on Mark Twain and Italo Svevo, the nature of habit, the validity of hypnosis, and the most insignificant city in the United States, where he lived for far too long. With comic insight and meticulous precision, Hens deconstructs every facet of the dependency and offers a brilliant disquisition on the psychopathology of addiction.

Introduction by Will Self, Translated by Jen Calleja.

‘Every cigarette I’ve ever smoked now seems, in retrospect, like little more than preparation for this remarkable essay – though nothing in me could have anticipated its exquisitely surprising brilliance, the precision and play of its intellect. It’s about smoking, sure, but it’s also a luminous and nuanced exploration of how we’re constituted by our obsessions, how our memories arrange themselves inside of us, and how – or if – we control our own lives.’ – Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams

Gregor Hens, born in 1965, is a German writer and translator. He has notably translated Will Self, Jonathan Lethem and George Packer into German.

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Notes on Suicide
by Simon Critchley

Suicide is everywhere. It haunts history and current events. It haunts our own networks of friends and family. The spectre of suicide looms large, but the topic is taboo because any meaningful discussion must at the very least consider that the answer to the question – ‘is life worth living?’ – might not be an emphatic yes; it might even be a stern no. Through a sweeping historical overview of suicide, a moving literary survey of famous suicide notes, and a psychological analysis of himself, Simon Critchley offers us an insight into what it means to possess the all too human gift and curse of being of being able to choose life or death.

‘An elegant, erudite, and provocative book that asks us to reflect on suicide without moral judgment and panicked response. For Critchley, many reasons have been given for suicide, but what remains less remarked is how suicide distinguishes human creatures who grapple with melancholy in the face of losses that are too huge or enigmatic to fathom. Though there may be many reasons given within philosophy or popular culture, there are also some simple, insistent truths that do forestall such an action. In his view, “suicide saddens the past and abolishes the future,” establishing a problematic framework for grasping the whole of a life. This text gestures toward what makes us forgetful about suicide: wondrous and recurring moments when we find ourselves “enduring in the here and now.”‘ – Judith Butler

Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. His previous books include On Humour, The Book of Dead Philosophers, How to Stop Living and Start Worrying, Impossible Objects, The Mattering of Matter (with Tom McCarthy), The Faith of the Faithless, Stay, Illusion!: The Hamlet Doctrine (with Jamieson Webster), Bowie, and Memory Theatre (published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2014). He is series moderator of ‘The Stone’, a philosophy column in the New York Times, to which he is a frequent contributor.

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On Immunity: An Inoculation
by Eula Biss


In this bold, fascinating book, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear – fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what may be in your children’s air, food, mattresses, medicines, and vaccines. Reflecting on her own experience as a new mother, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is an inoculation against our fear and a moving account of how we are all interconnected – our bodies and our fates.

Eula Biss is the author of The Balloonists and Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays, which received the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. Her essays have appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading and The Best Creative Nonfiction, as well as in the Believer and Harper’s. Her writing has been supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Howard Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Biss holds a BA from Hampshire College and an MFA in nonfictionwriting from the University of Iowa. She teaches at Northwestern University and lives in Chicago.

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