“Proxies: Essays Near Knowing” by Brian Blanchfield— A Cultural Autobiography

Blanchfield, Brian. “Proxies: Essays Near Knowing”, Nightboat, 2016

A Cultural Autobiography

Amos Lassen

Brian Blanchfield’s “Proxies” is a collection of essays about honesty and the revelation of self . He calls his essays “inroads to disinhibited autobiography.” The twenty-five are gems that come together to give us the writer’s life story. In each essay, Blanchfield chooses a subject that he looks at from several different angles and then produces a surprising and beautiful analogy. These confessional writings find their places between

“a poetics of impersonality” and a “disinhibited autobiography.” Through narrative, we are ushered into the writer’s life where we meet his family and John, hiss partner, friends and former lovers.

This is part memoir and part criticism and the essays chronicle Blanchfield’s life and memory. He shares his sensitivity to his own life experiences including growing up as a “primitive Baptist” in North Carolina.

His thought is influenced by reading, loving, and reckoning and each word seems to be specifically chosen with grace and daring. He goes through his life making mistakes in order to understand himself and his world sharing all that he feels he needs to live today and he reminds us to look within ourselves.


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