Using bisexuality as a frame, Go the Way Your Blood Beats questions the division of sexuality into straight and gay, in a timely exploration of the complex histories and psychologies of human desire.
A challenge to the idea that sexuality can either ever be fully known or neatly categorised, it is a meditation on desire’s unknowability. Interwoven with anonymous addresses to past loves – the sex of whom remain obscure – the book demonstrates the universalism of human desire.
Part essay, part memoir, part love letter, Go the Way Your Blood Beats asks us to see desire and sexuality as analogous with art – a mysterious, creative force.
“Amherst’s narrative is lithe and seductive. He traces the contours of desire, peppering his disquisition of bisexuality with fervent appeals to a lost love. These moments of direct address are fascinating, not least because their ambiguity tempts us to engage in suspicious reading practices, hunting for clues. Is he speaking to one person or several? What is the gender of his beloved? Do we care? If so, Amherst baits us, why?”
Times Literary Supplement
“This wide-ranging, allusive, insistently self-interrogating book argues that both our politics and our poetics need to eschew fixed categories to accommodate ever more creative, fluid and elective identities. It’s a book that demands intense engagement: I quarrelled with every page, and I was grateful for the quarrel. I was grateful, too, for its passionate reminder that we are always more mysterious than the stories we tell about ourselves.”
Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
“Go The Way Your Blood Beats is an elegant meditation on the slipperiness of sexual subjectivity, and on the powers and perils of naming sexuality. It explores the tension between the importance of recognising bisexuality, and the coercive pressure on individuals to know, name, and describe themselves. It’s a rich, suggestive, and timely piece of writing that diagnoses some of the painful paradoxes of contemporary sexual discourse.”
Katherine Angel, author of Unmastered: A Book On Desire Most Difficult to Tell
Bodies: we all have them, but our relationship with our own body is completely unique and specific to us, to our background, our gender, our sexuality, our race, our faith, our health and our mind. It is an incredibly important relationship to explore. On Bodies is a collection of short stories, essays, poetry and art to explore the often difficult, often miraculous relationships people have with their bodies.
The contributors for On Bodies include Michael Amherst // Marta Baussells // Stephanie Boland // Sami Çapulcu // Jake Elliott // Cara English // Livia Franchini // Rosie Haward // Clouds Haberberg // Rachel Heng // Krish Jeyakumar // Umairah Malik // Rica March // Christina McDermott // Kiran Millwood Hargrave // Kasim Mohammed // S. Niroshini // Stephanie Phillips // Ari Potter // Aki Schilz // Alice Tarbuck // Rebecca Thursten // Bryony White
Michael’s essay is entitled ‘Does a Silhouette Have a Shadow?’ The anthology can be ordered here.
Michael Amherst is the author of Go the Way Your Blood Beats, a meditation on truth and desire, for which he received an award from Arts Council England and won the 2019 Stonewall Israel Fishman Award for Nonfiction (sponsored by the American Library Association). He is also the winner of the 2020 Hubert Butler Essay Prize for his response to ‘Communal Solidarity and Individual Freedom – antagonists or allies?’ critiquing identity politics.
His essay, ‘Does a Silhouette Have a Shadow?’, examines the relationship between mind and body through the lens of chronic illness, and is published in anthology On Bodies. His short fiction has appeared in publications including The White Review and Contrappasso and been longlisted for BBC Opening Lines and Bath Short Story Prize, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. His essays and reviews have appeared in the Guardian, New Statesman, Attitude, the Spectator and The London Magazine, among others. He was shortlisted for the 2021 Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts. He is currently working on a novel, and also a book examining the relationship between chronic illness and creativity, for which he received an Arthur Welton Award from the Society of Authors. He is a member of Writing West Midlands’ Room 204 scheme.
Previously he has worked for Just Detention International, a health and human rights organisation that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. He served as a commissioner on the Howard League’s Commission on sex in prisons – the first of its kind in the UK – which reported in 2015.
15th February 2018 Book Launch – Burley Fisher Books, London More information
20th February 2018 York LGBT History Month: York Centre for Writing, York St John University More information
22nd February 2018 Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh More information
8th March In conversation with Lara Pawson – Broadway Bookshop, London More information
20th June 2018 In Conversation: Michael Amherst and Paula Lopez Zambrano – Pump House Gallery, London More information
9th November 2018 Michael Amherst at the Malta Book Festival 2018 – Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta More information
23rd January 2019 On Bodies Launch – South London Gallery, London More information
6th March 2019 In conversation with Luke Turner, author of Out of the Woods, Broadway Books, London More information
6th June 2019 Michael Amherst and Amelia Abraham in conversation, Gay’s the Word, London More information
4th October 2019 Queer Intentions – with Amelia Abraham and Amrou Al-Kadhi, Midland Arts Centre, Birmingham More information
30th May 2020 Guest Author Q+A with Out on the Page, online via Zoom
Photographic image © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos.
Portrait image © Phil Sharp.
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