Amy Fusselman’s new book, Idiophone, is out now. Order it from Amazon, B & N, IndieBound or direct from Coffeehouse Press.



IDIOPHONE was nominated for the 2019 Krause Essay Prize

IDIOPHONE was longlisted for The Believer Book Award

The Pharmacist’s Mate and 8 will be coming out in SPANISH from Argentinian publisher, CHAI.


Praise for IDIOPHONE:

“At its essence, Idiophone is a hilarious, fast-paced, deliciously messy voyage into the thinking mind of a very smart person.” —The Kenyon Review

“Idiophone stands as Fusselman’s boldest reckoning yet.” .–Los Angeles Review of Books 

“[Fusselman] has transformed the traditional essay into something far wilder and more alive.”--Publishers Weekly

“This book, about ballet and beauty, philosophy and family, reinforces Amy Fusselman’s status as one of our best interrogators of how we live now, and how we should live. As always, Fusselman asks tough questions and answers them with rare lyricism and candor.” —Dave Eggers, author of The Circle

“Fusselman’s prose has the delicate, tensile musculature of a ballet dancer, and the best thing you can do for yourself is surrender to it, let Fusselman take you where she wants to go, and then allow yourself to spring off the platform she has provided.” —Nylon

“This small and beautiful book about feminism and motherhood and art is perfect for those of us who like thinking outside of the box when we’re looking for something lovely to read.” VULTURE

“I read this in a single sitting. No one acrobats between beauty, confession, rueful humor, and deep insight with such amazing trapeze-y ease as Amy Fusselman.” —John Hodgman , bestselling author of VACATIONLAND

“Like the ballet itself, the most profound resonances of this work are in its celebration of human capability and complication.” Starred review for @AmyFusselman‘s IDIOPHONE! —Publisher’s Weekly

“The text explores Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker from a multitude of angles, creating a platform from which to launch an audacious series of looping, recursive inquiries into the nature of motherhood, daughterhood, art, and consciousness. The lovely closing invocation reads like a description of what the speaker’s role as daughter, mother, and artist might ideally be: “To see it all at once like a mirror, /to be in one world and to multiply, / to be in one world and remember a mother, / to be in one world/and to hold all the others.” —Women’s Review of Books

“The result of such wide-ranging inquiry is an essay that sparkles…’I will be a magician,’ Fusselman tells us, ‘…who explains my tricks.’ And what a delight for us to be here with her, under her top hat, her spell.” —The Arkansas International 

I really enjoyed Amy Fusselman’s Idiophone, a book-length essay that deftly maneuvers through topics like addiction, The Nutcracker, and art-making itself. Each sentence is given its own line here, allowing each thought to resonate before bleeding into the next one, which makes this book difficult to put down. Fusselman’s writing feels like a scroll unfurling page by page, and the connections she makes here are surprising and delightful. This book is a place where anything can happen: The word abracadabra can become annihilation, the theoretical becomes the real, and the essay becomes a dance. Take it to the beach and forget where you are.— Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I’m Someone Else

“Toward the end of Fusselman’s luminous new lyric essay creation, Idiophone, she writes: ‘To see it all at once like in a mirror, to be in one world and to multiply . . .’ and that comes pretty close to the overall mood of this weird, playful, and sometimes gloomy book. It feels sharply focused and almost suffocating at times while there are some moments that feel scattershot and a little off the rails—like the narrator is trying to show you the whole world. Going from the interior worlds of The Nutcracker to her relationship with her mom, Fusselman (one of my favorite people in the book world, I have to admit) investigates the various stagings and preconceptions of art (including quilting!) and being human. A refreshingly wild and ambitious essay that looks like an epic poem but reads like a speeding train set driven by mice, Idiophone is some strange magic.” —Kevin Sampsell of Powell’s Books

“Idiophone is about the various ways in which humans—especially humans who, have having reached the middle of their journey, are entering the dark wood—use alcohol, magic, imagination, and art to access at least the possibility of a transcendence in which they no longer believe. A furious, necessary, convincing rejuvenation of writer and reader, not to mention a brilliant reading of and against The Nutcracker.” —David Shields, author of Reality Hunger

“There is no mind quite like Amy Fusselman’s, and to be allowed inside it via these deft, singular, surprising sentences is to enter a vibrant wonderland where everything is new and nothing is a bore.” —Elisa Albert, author of After Birth

“One of Fusselman’s great talents has always been the construction of juxtapositions and equivalencies, and in this book, she doesn’t disappoint: a mother is a small iridescent paper circle, an EMT is a baby bunny, alcoholism and maternal ambivalence take their places next to stacks of pancakes and a fourteen-foot-tall sculpture from Vanuatu. In outrageously simple, inexplicably tender prose, Fusselman presses on her nouns until they break, and then, after denotation is no longer their most important job, they perform quite a bit of unexpected and marvelous work. This book is going to haunt me.” —Sarah Manguso, author of 300 Arguments

“I’m hesitant to offer too much detail about this marvelous, necessary essay because a major part of Idiophone’s glory lies within its many surprises. What a joy to never quite know where the next page—the next line even—will take you! Yet, since all the book’s curvy beelines of thought spring from the deft hand of a fantastic stylist, Idiophone also showcases a palpable and idiosyncratic control. Reader, make yourself ready for a love letter to motherhood, for an examination of the limits of performance, and for a battle cry to experimental voices—all of it powered writing that pirouettes to its own fabulous music.” —Elena Passarello, author of Animals Strike Curious Poses


Amy Fusselman is a writer, artist, and publisher based in New York City. She is the author of three previous books of nonfiction: Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted and Afraid to Die (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015); The Pharmacist’s Mate (McSweeney’s, 2013); and 8 (McSweeney’s, 2013).

Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, ARTnewsMs., The New York Times, Artnet, The Believer, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Atlantic, among other places.

Savage Park was excerpted in The Atlantic. Print reviews included the cover story of the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review. Slate also said that Savage Park had one of the “Best Lines of 2015.” and The Believer named it one of their favorite books of 2015. Pank magazine said “Savage Park wraps us in wonder…Amy Fusselman writes with grace and precision that beckons us to ask ourselves, just how will I live my life?”

After its publication by McSweeney’s in hardcover in 2001, The Pharmacist’s Mate was published in paperback by Penguin, and translated into Dutch and French. The Pharmacist’s Mate and 8 were re-released in a single volume from McSweeney’s in 2013. An Italian edition of both books, translated by Leonardo Taiuti, was published by Edizioni Black Coffee in 2017. 8 was recently featured on the Los Angeles Review of Books radio hour.

Fusselman is the publisher at Ohio Edit, a publishing project that offers 99-cent downloadable essays  on thought-provoking topics. The first two essays in the series are Winnicott and Music by Nicholas Spice and Comedy and Agency by David Robbins. Ohio Edit’s first venture into paper books, Jon-Michael Frank’s fantastically bitter How’s Everything Going? Not Good was distributed by SPD and sold out its print run. Her next project is Gilmore Tamny’s Haiku For You.

She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three children.

Selected Interviews:


Q and A with WexArts

The Believer Interview with Luc Rioural

Amy Fusselman by Matvei Yankelevich: BOMB

Some featured writing:

“Funny First,” Funny First, an essay about standup comedy in The Believer
A Review of “The Nutcracker and The Four Realms” The Believer
Having Braces as an Adult Is Like Finding the Fountain of Youth,” The Washington Post
“Feet to Brain,” The New York Times
A Review of Alexandra Lange’s The Design of Childhood, Metropolis
An Interview with Writer and Illustrator Anastasia Higginbotham, The Believer
How to Make Rape Lemonade” -McSweeney’s
On the Parental Gaze,” The Believer
Family Practice” a parenting column on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Selected earlier projects:

Surgery of Modern Warfare [Editor, Contributor] a literary web site, 2001-2004
Bunnyrabbit, [Writer, Editor, Illustrator] a ‘zine, distributed internationally by Tower Books/Records, 1990s, 8 issues

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