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Briallen Hopper: Hard to Love

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In Conversation with Rachel Vorona Cote

A sharp and entertaining essay collection about the importance of multiple forms of love and friendship in a world designed for couples, from a laser-precise new voice.

Sometimes it seems like there are two American creeds, self-reliance and marriage, and neither of them is mine. I experience myself as someone formed and sustained by others’ love and patience, by student loans and stipends, by the kindness of strangers. 

Briallen Hopper’s Hard to Love honors the categories of loves and relationships beyond marriage, the ones that are often treated as invisible or seen as secondary—friendships, kinship with adult siblings, care teams that form in times of illness, or various alternative family formations. She also values difficult and amorphous loves like loving a challenging job or inanimate objects that can’t love you back. She draws from personal experience, sharing stories about her loving but combative family, the fiercely independent Emerson scholar who pushed her away, and the friends who have become her invented or found family; pop culture touchstones like the Women’s March, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and the timeless series Cheers; and the work of writers like Joan Didion, Gwendolyn Brooks, Flannery O’Connor, and Herman Melville (Moby Dick like you’ve never seen it!).
Hard to Love pays homage and attention to unlikely friends and lovers both real and fictional. It is a series of love letters to the meaningful, if underappreciated, forms of intimacy and community that are tricky, tangled, and tough, but ultimately sustaining.

Briallen Hopper writes about pop culture, religion, politics, friends, family, and herself for New York MagazineLos Angeles Review of BooksThe New RepublicThe New InquiryAvidlyThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and Killing the Buddha, among many others. Her essays have been cited or recommended by sources like The New York TimesThe, and Slate. She has a PhD in American literature from Princeton and teaches writing at Yale.

Rachel Vorona Cote is a writer and occasional editor living in Washington, D.C. She writes for publications like the New Republic, PitchforkCatapultHazlitt, Rolling Stone, the Poetry Foundation, and Literary Hub, and is a former contributor at Jezebel.  Her book TOO MUCH is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing.

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Later Event: May 21
Poetry Book Club: Life on Mars