The Naif (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2024)

The Naif

The Naif is a cross-genre text (part novel, part philosophy, all poetry) by artist Valerie Hsiung.

Date: May 2024
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse
Format: Print
Genre: Fiction, Poetry, Philosophy
Pre-order now from Ugly Duckling & Asterism Books

Excerpt in The Georgia Review

“Is it innocence to think that if you hold onto something long enough (community, relationship, attention) the habitual will give way to the extraordinary? The “person of insouciance” relating this logbook narrative evolves through the willful and unsuspecting ironies that threaten to foil the aim of artists and revolutionaries alike. The Naif so deranges intention with particulars—that is, with wonder—as to turn everyday fact into speculative fiction. A new way of living may yet prevail, thanks to Hsiung’s encouragement, akin to the spores of a mushroom, or to winning the lottery, waiting for us all along, as though in advance of the beginning.”
           - Roberto Tejada

“Halfway between Kafka’s Singer and Melville’s Scrivener, Hsiung’s Naif wields syntax as both tuning fork and sensor, sounding a singular diphthong at once cosmic and quasi-comic. With minute adjustments to eyeline and plumbline, this naif induces us to perceive human interaction as at once present and potential, threat and promise, banquet and gambit, culture and cult.”
           - Joyelle McSweeney

“A philosophical rumination that pulls us all the way into its depths, The Naif is an abstract painting made of words and sentences and punctuation or lack thereof, a distant memory whose skin you get to touch and feel as you attempt to find your way through its centers and peripheries. The Naif is an attempt for “reconciliation” between what we try to do in life while we have “already gone off course,” while we navigate an intimate piece of clothing dangling on a chair, cheese, mouse, juice gone bad, a lamp, a gift shop, all the what and the who of the everyday guiding us toward the word “transcend.” Kneading a slippery “new way of life” into a shape that is shifting and grounding, Valerie Hsiung shares with us her being in and out of community, in intimacy and in selfness. She invites us to “conduct ourselves according to the pulse of each other without losing the pulse of ourselves” while we immerse ourselves in the pulse of her beautiful language offering.“
          - Poupeh Missaghi

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