Exclusive Cover Reveal of “Unsex Me Here” by Aurora Mattia

Electric Literature is pleased to reveal the cover for the book Unsex Me Here by Aurora Mattia, which will be published by Coffee House Press on September 24, 2024. Preorder the book here.

“These are stories about attempting to outrun time; about trying to remember transfemme pasts; about magic touching everything except the possibility of lasting love.”

From a shapeshifting garden somewhere in Michigan to a West Texas town with a supernatural past, from a stalactite cavern in the birthplace of Aphrodite to a secret waterfall in Texarkana: from nowhere to anywhere, Aurora Mattia chases glimpses of paradise. Her gemstone prose shatters into starbursts of heartbreak and rapture, gossip and holy babble, bringing together a cast of spiders, sibyls, angels, mermaids, girlfriends, and goddesses in vain pursuit of their unnameable selves. Their perils are as dense with symbolism as they are refined by desire—if beauty is the labyrinth, it is also the light.

Tied together by the strings of a corset, Unsex Me Here is a dazzling showcase of other worlds near and distant, and the high femme ramblers who’ve found and lost their way through them.

Here is the cover, designed by Tree Abraham.

Author Aurora Mattia: “My family is from East Texas, but the Texas-of-my-mind, the Texas that pulls my dreams across towns and timezones—the Texas where my great-grandmother Bobby was sent to live in a single mothers’ home after a lowlife boyfriend got her pregnant—is across the Pecos, among ghost town ruins, beneath the high auburn walls of mesas like immemorial clouds calcified by heat and slow time, and come to rest. So it makes sense for the cover of Unsex Me Here to reflect that supernatural place where I first saw the moon rise; and it only makes sense, since all life began within hydrothermal heat vents—enormous cracks—in the ocean floor, for an infinite ravine to split the desert in two, because that very desert, where anyone can happen upon an ammonite fossil, was once itself an ocean floor, the Permian Basin. And so it only makes sense, in that northern corner of the Chihuahuan Desert, for iridescent forms—bubbles, blobs, mutating globules—to wobble and rise from such a ravine, on the verge of shapeshifting into something known, or at least something knowable, because, as the women in Unsex Me Here believe, iridescence is:

  •          the oldest force in the universe, its most fundamental expression, i.e.,
  •          the antimatter nectar of nothing, i.e.,
  •          the precondition of all life.

And what could be more transsexual than that?”

Designer Tree Abraham: “Mattia’s decadent surrealist language is a designer’s dream. There was so much description of an Empyreal world made of luminescent surfaces and mythological collisions. The initial cover concept was inspired by a passage in the book:

‘To let loose a swarm of butterflies from the cracked earth, but I am not made to show you butterflies, I am made to show you trampled wings and the uselessness of beauty. I want so much to give you paradise, I am trying my hardest, I promise. I have at last exhumed my phrases and though they are damp and humid and many are rotted like wet leaves I speak them anyway.’

The cover had butterflies escaping from the crack. The author wanted something other than butterflies. I pulled the orbs from another concept, feeling these vessels of watery air offered similar optimism as they floated up from the hot dry earth. Taking notes from Mattia on color and type ultimately made this cover better than I could have imagined, but not nearly as fantastical as what lies inside.”

View Original Source Here

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