From “one of America’s most significant young poets” (Lyn Hejinian), an exceptional book of nonfiction and fables that provides a walking tour of the creative mind.
In Wonderful Investigations, Dan Beachy-Quick broaches “a hazy line, a faulty boundary” between our daily world and one rich with wonder; a magical world in which, through his work as a writer, he participates with a singular combination of critical intelligence and lyricism. Touching on the works of Emerson, Thoreau, Proust, and Plato, among others, Beachy-Quick outlines the problem of duality in modern thought—the separation of the mind and body, word and referent, intelligence and mystery, human and natural—and makes the case for a fuller kind of nature poetry, one that strives to overcome this false separation, and to celebrate the notion that “wonder is the fact that the world has never ceased to be real.”
Luminous, generous, and unceasingly curious, Wonderful Investigations is a rich investigation of what it means to think, read, write, and learn.
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Praise and Prizes
“Wonderful Investigations juxtaposes four essays with three ‘meditations’ and four fable-like ‘tales’ to trace the tension between mind and body, between our inner and our outer lives. A poet, Dan Beachy-Quick is terrific with an image and relies on antecedents here from Plato to Thoreau to give his work a context and a depth.”
“‘Wonder as a point of concern denies its own consideration,’ writes Dan Beachy-Quick at the outset of this luminous and searching book. But every page of this book testifies to wonder’s ubiquity even as it honors that passion’s fugitive nature.”
“Wonderful Investigations is Dan Beachy-Quick at top form, under cover of prose. The real wonders here are the four ‘tales’—fictions—which are perhaps his most accomplished and heartbreaking works yet. In them, Beachy-Quick reveals himself to be the true heir not of Blake or Shelley, nor even of his beloved Keats, but rather of Borges and George MacDonald. . . . Beachy-Quick makes a stride forward as one of the preeminent American visionaries of our moment.”
“‘What can we find if we put our assumptions away?’ In this unique collection of utterly singular investigations—Emersonian in their profundity and Aesopian in their delight—Dan Beachy-Quick answers his own question with an account of wonder as our invitation to discover (or be reminded) ‘that reality’s border is loosely guarded.’”
“Wonderful Investigations is a model of intense observation, of a mind reaching out as far as it can. Always Dan Beachy-Quick seems to write in metaphor, returning to the process of wonder, and why it’s so necessary, and then to the failure of language and poetry to ever truly take us where we want to go. . . . His reader cannot help but feel the same desire for that hazy line—cannot help but want to reach for it as well.”
“This is a book about reading. It offers the kinds of insights into the act that most of us never stop to indulge in, and for that we are eternally grateful. . . . The idea that reading offers a dream world, a parallel one, is familiar. But Dan Beachy-Quick takes this a step farther. Reading before sleep, reading books to children before they go to sleep, is a way to slide gently through a middle place and into forgetting.”
“Dan Beachy-Quick’s sensitive and intimate approach to writing about writing seems an ideal antidote to the post-whateverist malaise of most literary criticism. He acknowledges theory but doesn’t get weighed down by it, nor is it his primary interest. . . . In a landscape that at times seems overpopulated with creative writers, we need more creative readers like Beachy-Quick.”