the buddhist

By Dodie Bellamy

Crushes are the best.  They are also the worst.  In the buddhist Dodie Bellamy renders both of these extremes with precision and immediacy, using the lens of her own breakup with a Buddhist teacher.

The book began as a blog that Bellamy kept during and after this failed relationship.  This intimate, almost epistolary form allows her to skip merrily from shallow to deep concerns, sometimes in the same sentence.  Meandering vignettes develop into devastating observations about love, heterosexuality, dignity, privacy, and the point of writing. If you have felt the sting of a bruised ego, the hope kindled by an out-of-the-blue email, or clung desperately to the false confidence of 'you go girl' affirmations, then there is something in this book that will make you cringe, cry, or burst out laughing.

Bellamy is a poet and writing professor in San Francisco. Boy is she ever: she often writes about getting Taoist internal organ massages, she’s in an open marriage, she wakes up with a ring of eye makeup around one eye and Googles “raccoon spirit guide."  She pays attention to everything, evoking the micro-shifts in her thoughts and feelings and physicality with uncommon skill.  This turns out to be crucial to her project: “An in-your-face owning of one’s vulnerability is a powerful feminist strategy … to deny behaviors gendered as weak or “feminine” is not feminist or queer, it’s heteronormative to the hilt.”   Whether or not you buy this 'vulnerability as strength' thing at the beginning of the buddhist,  you’ll almost certainly be convinced by the end. 

 

Read an excerpt of the buddhist here.


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the buddhist
the buddhist