Permanent Revolution: Essays by Gail Scott


Permanent Revolution: Essays by Gail Scott



May 25, 2021
Nonfiction | Essays
8.5 x 5.5 inches | 200 pages
Trade Paper ISBN 9781771666824



With a Foreword by Zoe Whittall.

“A writer may do as she pleases with her epoch. Except ignore it,” says Gail Scott. Permanent Revolution traces her seminal investigation of prose experiment to the present, including a recreation of the iconic text Spaces Like Stairs, in a collection of essays relating the matter of writing to ongoing social upheaval. “Where there is no emergency there is likely no real experiment,” she writes.

In conversation with other writers across the continent identified with current queer/feminist avant-garde trajectories, including l’écriture-au féminin moment in Québec, and queer continental New Narrative, Permanent Revolution is an evolutionary snapshot of contemporaneous Fe-male ground-breaking prose.

With Permanent Revolution, Scott interrogates her era, twice. Belonging in the canon alongside Maggie Nelson, Lydia Davis and Renee Gladman, Gail Scott is an important feminist thinker of our time.

Praise for Permanent Revolution:

“At once erudite and intimate, Permanent Revolution is a vital set of meditations on difficulty and feminist art. Gail Scott convincingly and beautifully evokes feminism as an ongoing experimental practice: courageous, expansive, and necessary to all.” —Anne Boyer, author of The Undying, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

“‘I can never write the novel I want.’ —Gail Scott. In this context, is the sentence a crypt? When does nescience, in the way that word is used by Abraham and Torok, first become a possibility, an analog, a coin, for this other kind of prose, which is to say: ‘not a novel’ (then)?  Permanent Revolution is written in the gap between what a novel could have been and what is possible now, and that’s a kind of grammar.  Reading these essays, I felt the part of me that never writes, but longs to, come back to life for a few moments and/or forever.  ‘The gap’s so great, it’s almost comical.’ —Gail Scott, who once said that the space between sentences is ‘an abyss.’ I wrote that down, and thought about it for years afterwards. There was something irreversible, I understood, about what might come next.  What will you give up?  Who will you never see again?  ‘That is: where + how in writing?’ —Gail Scott.”
—Bhanu Kapil

“I can still remember the thrill of first entering the space of Gail Scott’s novel, My Paris, a diary written all in present participles, the way I stumbled along the sentences as if around a city. In these essays we get to travel through Scott’s thinking through narrative, gender and queer aesthetics, from philosophizing her own experiments in prose to being in conversation with the écriture feminine of friends, from Nicole Brossard’s Mauve Desert to New Narrative. She also writes through her literary foremothers, from Kathy Acker through the trilogy of the “masturbating French dykes” (ha!) (Irigaray, Cixous, Wittig) to Marguerite Duras. It was Duras’s nonfiction I thought about when reading Permanent Revolution—profound and poetic, enacting the urgency of literature amidst the emergencies of now.”
—Kate Zambreno, author of Heroines and Drifts

“To experience Gail Scott’s écriture is to open yourself to ‘a wild, titillating, ineffable excess.’ Her ‘community of sentences’ are bodily gestures that we are folded together with, com-pli-cit. She gathers the noisy polyglossic surround of her city, ‘wilfully fuck[ing]’ the caesuras between torn and porous sentences and subjects. What seems at first the limits of articulation with proper listening becomes a beautiful threshold of social space. This book of essais, radical tries, charts Scott’s writerly formation at the nexus of Québécoise feminist fiction/theory and San Francisco queer New Narrative bodily spillage. No one writes quite like Gail Scott, and we all have so much to learn from her untameable work ‘at a juncture of politics + excess.'” Rachel Zolf

Press Coverage:

Shrapnel’s Most Anticipated Titles for Spring 2021  —Shrapnel Magazine

Gail Scott is the author of Spare Parts (1981), Heroine (1987, re-issued in 2019 with an introduction by Eileen Myles), Main Brides (1993), My Paris (1999), Spare Parts Plus Two (2002), and The Obituary (2010). Her essays are collected in Spaces Like Stairs (1989) and in La Théorie, un dimanche (1988) which was translated into English as Theory, A Sunday (2013). Scott is co-editor of the New Narrative anthology: Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative (2004). Her translation of Michael Delisle’s Le désarroi du matelot was shortlisted for a 2001 Governor General’s Literary Award. A memoir, based in Lower Manhattan during the early Obama years, is forthcoming. Scott lives in Montréal.


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