Is There God after Prince?: Dispatches from an Age of Last Things (Paperback)
Most titles are on our shelves or available within 1-5 days.
Essays considering what it means to love art, culture, and people in an age of accelerating disaster.
This is a book about loving things—books, songs, people—in the shadow of a felt, looming disaster. Through lyrical, funny, heart-wrenching essays, Peter Coviello considers pieces of culture across a fantastic range, setting them inside the vivid scenes of friendship, dispute, romance, talk, and loss, where they enter our lives. Alongside him, we reencounter movies like The Shining, shows like The Sopranos; videos; poems; novels by Sam Lipsyte, Sally Rooney, and Paula Fox; as well as songs by Joni Mitchell, Gladys Knight, Steely Dan, Pavement, and the much-mourned saint of Minneapolis, Prince.
Navigating an overwhelming feeling that Coviello calls “endstrickenness,” he asks what it means to love things in calamitous times, when so much seems to be shambling toward collapse. Balancing comedy and anger, exhilaration and sorrow, Coviello illuminates the strange ways the things we cherish help us to hold on to life and to its turbulent joys. Is There God after Prince? shows us what twenty-first-century criticism can be, and how it might speak to us, in a time of ruin, in an age of “Last Things.”
About the Author
Peter Coviello is the author of five previous books, including Tomorrow’s Parties, a finalist for a 2013 Lambda Award in LGBT Studies; Long Players, a memoir selected as one of Artforum’s Ten Best Books of 2018; and Make Yourselves Gods, also published by the University of Chicago Press. His essays have appeared in Frieze, Chicago Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Raritan, Elle, and Believer, among other publications. He is professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"Coviello navigates. . . a world obsessed with nostalgia for the past and the impending disaster of the future. Exploring our yearning for entertainment amid turmoil, Coviello examines how art’s meaning transforms alongside us. The Sopranos, Gladys Knight, Sally Rooney, The Shining, Joni Mitchell, Paula Fox, Steely Dan—no piece of culture evades his gaze. Through the lens of what Coviello calls 'enstrickenness,' he wonders: Is there genuine hope to be found through sentimentality?"
— The Millions, "Most Anticipated: The Great 2023 Book Preview"
"Omnibus of brainy, exuberant essays that explore with insight and nuance an extraordinary range of subjects. . . . In Is There God After Prince?, there is so much clear seeing and close listening and expansive thinking."
"Coviello reflects on myriad opportunities for connection through critical engagement with the arts in his intriguing essay collection . . . . Using the arts as a springboard, the book engages in the critical examination of personal, professional, and society-wide relationships, tying these to broad themes including love, fulfillment, and grief. This solidifies Coviello’s thesis—that 'one thing criticism might do—or try to do—is chart the ways certain cherished things (songs, poems, movies, etc.) fold . . . worlds together and, for a blazing instant or two, make them sensible to one another.' A thought-provoking essay collection, Is There God after Prince? elevates the idea that emotional attachment to the arts can be a catalyst for reflection, memory formation, and relationship building."
— Foreword Reviews
"An exquisitely written romp through Coviello’s pop culture favorites."
— Publishers Weekly
"To say that this collection takes the reader on a personal expedition is an understatement. Coviello’s elegant use of language keeps the often complex stream-of-consciousness strapped to a critical foundation. As in life, even in view of a nearing end, these essays contain multitudes."
“Coviello is our bard of ardor, of nuanced connection, of passionate critical engagement with objects of art and each other. There is God, or at least life, after Prince, for a little while, anyway, but it’s up to us to seek vibrancy and feeling and new meaning in a world that seems too ready to close up shop. Coviello’s essays are beautiful demonstrations of our task.”
— Sam Lipsyte, author of "No One Left to Come Looking for You" and "The Ask"
"It feels like the world is leaving us—by dying—but in a voice at once ardent and incisive, Coviello refuses to leave the world. With essays on Henry James and post-punk, love and college radio, Is There God after Prince? is a joyous cry of praise and protest. Reading this book is like spending an evening on a barstool next to your sharpest, warmest-hearted, and best-read friend: you emerge with a reading list and a renewed will to live."
— Emily Ogden, author of "On Not Knowing: How to Love and Other Essays"
"Is There God after Prince? is a book that pushes back, with loving acuity and occasional fury, against the lazy, pre-chewed truisms of our op-ed titans. The impassioned encounters with books, songs, and people that fill these chapters reflect not so much a host of obsessions as an attachment to life itself."
— Gustavus Stadler, author of "Woody Guthrie: An Intimate Life"