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Pop Song: Adventures in Art & Intimacy

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Endlessly inventive, intimate, and provocative, this memoir-in-essays is a celebration of the strange and exquisite state of falling in love, whether with a painting or a person, that interweaves incisive commentary on modern life, feminism, art and sex with the author's own experiences of obsession, heartbreak, and past trauma.

Like a song that feels written just for you,
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 4th 2021 by Catapult
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Meike
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, 2020-read
Pham's memoir in essays tells the story of a love affair, how the author's alter ego arrived at the point of meeting the person, what happened during their relationship and how it ultimately ended. Throughout the text, this lover is directly addressed as "you", and as the title suggest, Pham - a writer and visual artist who holds a degree in painting and art history from Yale - intersperses her reflections on sex and human relations with various vignettes on different female artists, their works ...more
Paris (parisperusing)
"Here's one promise of a bruise: it heals. A bruise is a way of witnessing: one has endured a blow and survived. It disappears once flesh has been knit back together. In some ways, a bruise is the inverse of photography, or any kind of art making. Art preserves; bruises fade. Once I could get past saying, I hurt, I realized I had so much more to say."

I admire the sway and tenderness with which Larissa Pham renders her experiences as an Asian American woman against the milieu of the world and all
...more
Geoff
There is a lot to like in Pop Song. Pham is both intimate and scholarly, disclosing and discursive, open and hurt, angry and hopeful. A collection of personal essays tinged with scholarly discussions of art, the book turns out to describe the arc of a relationship, moving back through her life all through to the aftermath. She addresses her (former) love directly in the second person throughout the book, and while I've found "you" to be off-putting or precious in other places, here it works beca ...more
M. (Inside My Library Mind)
More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind

“It was the first time I learned to perform my sadness. It is a skill I have retained”


A while back I read a short story collection, Kink, and one of my favorite stories in it was by Larissa Pham, an author I have not heard of before. So when I spied her upcoming memoir in essays on Edelweiss, I had to check it out. It was a must. And I am so glad I did because I really loved this.

Pop Song is a hybrid between a memoir in essays and art cr
...more
Isa
May 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ults
Reading this while anticipating a breakup-esque emotion in my own life feels like a sign somehow.
Andrew
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm not shy to admit that I don't know a lot about art-- Pham, however, is deeply immersed in all of its forms, and her brilliance shows in every segment of Pop Song. Pham herself is an artist, a world traveler, a lover, and much, much more. In this memoir, she enchantingly describes a select few pieces that have captivated her, relating them to beautiful, painful, and ultimately vulnerable points of her life, whether that be past, present, or future. Whether it's a painting, an installation, or ...more
Yvette
May 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
this book felt like a big hug
Sam Bizar
Jun 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays-memoir
I feel like Larissa Pham and I would be friends if we knew each other, but I also feel like she would be too cool to want to be seen with me.

This collection of essays is deeply disturbing in how easily it feels as if one's personal thoughts are reflected and printed on the page, written by another writer. Which isn't to say that Pham's experiences are generalized. Rather, these are very intimate movements written as confession from the writer to the reader - from the very specific perspective of
...more
Never Without a Book
Reading Pham's posts feels like scrolling through a pre-Facebook post. She has the unselfconscious confidence to spill the unguarded details of her life, but she also shows far more sophisticated side. In her first essay, Pham describes herself as anescapist. She sprints under the New Haven sky, savoring the beauty of its light. In her essay "Body of Work," Pham talks about an early, immature relationship that ends in frustration and confusion. This prompts her to explore the world of BDSM, whic ...more
Siobhan
Jun 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pop Song: Adventures in Art & Intimacy is an exploration of love and art, and how both make you feel. The series of essays charts, loosely, a relationship: how Pham became the person she was when she met this lover, only referred to as "you" throughout, what happened during their relationship, and how it ends. At the same time, the essays also consider other areas like trauma and belonging and explore various artistic forms and media, including painting, photography, and music.

Memoirs and essay
...more
Samantha
Jun 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Larissa Pham writes in a manner that is both lyrical and matter-of-fact, and that’s one of the best things about Pop Song.

I’m not big on personal memoirs and am one of the few who doesn’t care much to hear about the private lives of strangers, but Pham does a good job of tying her own personal experiences to things that are of interest to someone like me.

She’s at her best when she’s ruminating on art—whether that be her own or museum pieces—and she brings some truly unique critical thought to t
...more
Amber
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
5 stars because this book is so very good at being itself. Even when Pham beckons us into depths of yearning and achingness that make me feel almost embarassed to be witnessing, I couldn't imagine it any other way. Thanks Larissa Pham for showing us the beauty in keeping our hearts open, wanting, and overflowing, how to interact with visual art and music and relationships from a place of deep and honest sentiment. <3

"My eye wasn’t possessive of people; it was only the closeness between us I cra
...more
Diana N.
May 20, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is really a combination of a memoir and art references. Descriptions of different works of art are intertwined with the journey of relationships/intimacy/breakups/love.

What I liked about this book was that the pieces of art were thoughtful and fit very well with the particular topic being shared.

The Breakup Interludes section seemed a bit choppy to me since I was hoping it had flowed more like the previous sections, even though I think that was probably intentional. Overall, I did en
...more
Bhavsi
May 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Larissa Pham is a talented and insightful writer and her debut collection of essays is out in the world today!

In Pop Song, Pham explores art and intimacy as noted on the cover but this book is not simply a collection of essays, it is Pham’s courage on paper. Larissa Pham bares her soul to us through her words and poignant anecdotes. She explores art through a critical lens and uses art to examine ideas such as pain, longing, pleasure, trauma and human nature. She references various art mediums
...more
Asif Ghazanfar
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Art as it relates to, and illuminates, many facets of a young woman's life and her relationships. ...more
Thomas
Jun 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
4.5 - like a great breakup album
Jessica
Jun 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well now I just want to sit in a museum, stare at a painting, and cry.
Jon-Carlo
May 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
probs my fav read this year
Paige
May 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
2.5
very tumblr
Shey
Apr 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley-arcs
Pop Song: Adventures in Art and Intimacy absolutely delivers on the promise of its title. This is a vulnerable collection of essays exploring a range of topics, including modern art, sex, love, and identity. In this creative nonfiction memoir, Pham deftly weaves her personal narrative into reflections on the work of some of her favorite artists as she takes the reader on a journey of introspection.

While it is obvious that Pham is a talented writer who thinks deeply, feels deeply, and is brave en
...more
Kate
May 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"Today I have sensitive tattooed in script above my right elbow, an impulsive decision I made with you. Sometimes I skim my fingertips across it, feeling where the skin is still raised. All the bruises I've gotten over the years have sunk back into my skin, the capillaries absorbed, the flesh healed. The photos remain, and I do love them, but their beauty isn't solely in the suffering. What I needed most from my bruises, after all was not to know that I had acquired them but to know that I had e ...more
Nandika | Booktrovertgirl
May 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Memoir is one of my favorite genres, and Pop Song did not disappoint me even a bit.

I rate books on the basis of how they make me feel. Pop Song made me feel like I should stay up all night looking out of my window and watch the sun rise. This memoir is divided into essays based on different topics of the author's life, but all the chapters have reference to an elusive 'you', a person the author loved/is still in love with. Whenever 'you' is referred, there is a certain melancholy that automatica
...more
Kaitlin
May 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Pop Song is generous, ambitious, and captivating. Pham skillfully explores her journey as an artist with tender explorations of desire, sex, and encounters with art. Her criticism is clear-eyed and sensitive, avoiding the trope of inaccessible artspeak with more human and truthful revelations on how art reveals the cracks and interstices of our humanity.

She writes so movingly about her feelings, which is no mean feat given how uncontainable emotions can be: feelings of restlessness and wanting
...more
Madeleine
pham is immensely skilled at inviting the reader into the space of emotion, and animating works of art with accessible and erotic urgency. the meandering essay "body of work" was the collection's standout, doing what a contemporary essay should do: take the reader on a journey w/the writer's mind to draw out tension and connections. the essays felt most strong when they had the space to move around and surprise (also gorgeously-done in "haunted"). others formally felt less exciting — for example ...more
Rebecca Schuh
This book feels like a gift from art and the natural world, delivered in the lyric of feelings. It has the “it” that the author describes about art-art that has a lilt, a change, a personality, that strikes a harp chord. ❤️
Riley Yaxley
May 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely intoxicating. I devoured this in one sitting. Perfectly blends the personal, the theoretical and the historical in a way that is so heart wrenching and intimate. It felt like a conversation with a friend.
Emmeline
May 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is probably biased because I've been following along/reading Larissa Pham's writing since I want to say my early college or late high school years? Anyway, I was really looking forward to reading this and it did *not* disappoint! ...more
Cecilia Gigliotti
Jun 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Really affecting writing, with emotional and analytical components that resonated with someone like me. Artists of all stripes will find themselves, their experiences and fears, reflected in the prose, but then so will everyone who has ever fallen in love or lost themselves in some other way.
OjoAusana
May 18, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2021
*received for free from netgalley for honest review* This was just not really my cup of tea, it was an interesting read but not something id buy myself.
Angela Randall
May 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a good book. I couldn't put it down ...more
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