A Window That Can Neither Open nor Close

Poems, Plots, Chance
Preorder now for August!

An intimate and kaleidoscopic entry in the Multiverse series that excavates survival, storytelling, and coming to terms with an unruly mind.
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An intimate and kaleidoscopic entry in the Multiverse series that excavates survival, storytelling, and coming to terms with an unruly mind.

In A Window That Can Neither Open nor Close, the stakes of writing are also the stakes of living. “Though I no longer wanted to die,” writes Lauren Russell, “our first years together were not easy … because I also did not want to live.” From this enigmatic in-between, Russell dives into multitudes: cats and questions; compulsion and devotion; narrative and diagnosis; language and loneliness; scrupulosity and stasis; suicidality and love.

Resisting the neurotypical expectation to choose any one answer arising from her explorations, she invites readers to engage: a pop quiz, a twelve-sided die, an abecedarian confession, a box of mirrors, several idiosyncratic diagnostic tools, and a suite of obsidian waiting rooms. Holding binaries in suspense, Russell seamlessly unfolds and enfolds the various operations of language, moving through forms with the restless brilliance of an architect turned ethicist turned collagist turned origamist. And everything, it seems, finds some way to turn back into poetry.

From psychological evaluation to clickbait, Russell transforms the world’s furious search for explanations into open inquiry. “How flat is the silence in your pocket?” she asks. “Is the inside of a wish an ossuary?” “Do questions stick you to the wall of sociability?” “Did I say I am making my own bestiary?” “What kind of cascade is this?” In a book dedicated to knowing, to not-knowing, and to its readers, Russell pulls back the curtain and invites us in.

Publish Date
8.5 × 6.5 × 0.5 in
10 oz

Lauren Russell

Lauren Russell is the author of A Window That Can Neither Open nor Close; Descent, winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2021 Anna Rabinowitz Award; and What’s Hanging on the Hush.

Praise and Prizes

  • A Window That Can Neither Open nor Close is a book that undoes standardization and sanitizing language through stimming’s poetic repetition, generating ‘eccentrically whorling’ difference. Not open and not closed, too large to fit the frame and too jagged around the edges, this book captures the incompatibility and queer sensibility that accompanies a diagnosis. If identity is narrative, Lauren Russell rewrites the narrative of her own identity by reconfiguring neurotypical language patterns, and offering a book I wish I had read when I was a young neurodivergent writer, finding my way past misperceptions in a world where I did not quite fit, over and over.”

    Roque Raquel Salas Rivera
    author of before island is volcano
  • “I am in awe of Lauren Russell’s ambitious, feline capacity to make elegant, vast leaps between lyric poems, personal narrative, essay, vivid collages, and inventive concrete verse in this important book. The velveteen, sensuous sonority of her poems and the mineral edge of her pristine prose teach us about longing and erotic fantasy, life-sustaining trans-species relationships, and the ways our great responsibility to each other moves through the neuroatypical bodymind. Russell’s lucid rendering of her experience of autism spectrum disorder and OCD illuminates a private, captivating biography of eros, to imagine a subject glowing with wit, unflinching intelligence, self-reflexive humor. ‘How can / Black Lives Matter / and not your own?’ She asks, offering this book as an insistent answer: it does, it does, it does. This is as much a book of astonishing, vulnerable confession as it is a deft refutation of difficult medical and social histories that have misrecognized her. It returned me to life as a more devoted, curious student, listening at the window that will neither open nor close.”

    Divya Victor
    author of Curb