PRINT December 2018


Gayle Salamon

In this memoir about love, stepparenthood, loss, grief, sex, friendship, and music, Peter Coviello explores how we create worlds with others and how we lose them, making vivid the vertiginous feeling of falling out of one’s own life. He captures with descriptive precision the kinds of love for which there are no proper descriptors. Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs (Penguin) is a story about being decimated by a lover’s betrayal that simultaneously unpeels that story. He leans with equal rapture into subjects as disparate as the National and Charles Dickens, about whom Coviello writes: “He took the harm that had been visited upon him, which a part of him must have known he would never outdistance, and by some incredible magic transformed it into an overspilling love for the damaged creatures of the world.” So, too, with Coviello, for whom that magical transformation is wrought through songs, auditory capsules “where we encounter possibilities, inferences, angles of blossoming thought, that for whatever reason come to be accessible to us in no other human way.” Long Players illuminates how songs make and hold our connections to other people—even and especially after we have already lost them—and how that same music can conjure the infinitely renewable possibility of intimacy in its many and varied forms. Sad, joyous, funny, heart-cracking: I can’t remember the last time I read a book that rendered such raw feeling with such intricate intelligence.

Gayle Salamon is Professor of English and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of The Life and Death of Latisha King: A Critical Phenomenology of Transphobia (NYU Press, 2018).